NFL Draft: Chargers select Vols WR Josh Palmer in third round

Another Tennessee football wide receiver has inked a deal with a pro team. The Los Angeles Chargers selected Josh Palmer in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft with the 77th overall pick on Friday night.

Palmer, who stands at 6’1″ 210 pounds, was the first Vol selected in the draft. As UT’s top receiver this past year, catching 33 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns, he follows Jauan Jennings, the program’s top receiver in 2019, who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers.

Add in Marquez Callaway emerging as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints, and Palmer makes for the top three receivers in 2019 linking up with pro teams. Palmer, who was the No. 3 receiver that year, went higher than any of them in the NFL Draft.

Despite never having 500 yards receiving in a season, Palmer’s draft stock shot up in the offseason. He scored a touchdown in the Senior Bowl and then wowed scouts with his pro day. That was enough for him to start competing with Trey Smith as the Vols’ top draft prospect.

Indeed, by the week of the draft, Palmer had begun to emerge in some rankings as the top former Vol in the draft. He wasn’t the favorite to go first, but it wouldn’t have been a shock if he did, and it’s now not a shock that he did.

Consistency is a mark of Palmer’s production. He may have never reached 500 yards, but he went for over 400 yards his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Coming from Canada, the Brampton, Ontario native developed every year with UT.

What happened this past year was not his fault. He dealt with an incredibly inconsistent passing game and had few catchable balls thrown his way. However, the guy still managed to stand out as an elite deep threat and somebody with great hands.

Those two things made Palmer an intriguing NFL Draft prospect. It made up for his underwhelming speed combined with not being that tall. Whether or not he works out in LA remains to be seen, but the guy clearly has potential. He was a great pickup.