2021 Draft Scouting Report: Tennessee WR Josh Palmer

Evaluating a potential sleeper wide receiver prospect for the Patriots in Tennessee's Josh Palmer.
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With the 2021 NFL Draft now less than two weeks away, we examine some of the prospects who could be of interest to the New England Patriots.

In this scouting report, we take a closer look at Josh Palmer, a wide receiver from the University of Tennessee.

Measurables:

Height: 6-1

Weight: 210

Age: 21

40-Yard Dash: 4.51 seconds

Prospect Breakdown:

Hands: 9/10 - One of Palmer's best traits lie in his strong hands. He has big strong mitts that can grab balls in traffic.

Contact Balance/Elusiveness: 5/10 - Rarely saw any instances of this. Palmer was in an offense where he got only very select opportunities for yards after the catch. He is not the kind of athlete to really supply any sort of elusiveness with the ball in his hands. Definitely more of a possession receiver. 

Route Footwork Efficiency: 8/10 - Really impressive discipline when running routes, making everything look the same. Palmer can make a living in the NFL in intermediate areas of the field by selling vertical in most his routes and threatening defenders to turn their hips and commit to the vertical plane of the field. That's when he can quickly break off into the middle parts of the field. Footwork is purposeful and very infrequently wasted. 

Short Routes: 7/10 - Palmer showed flashes of being strong on short routes, which would make sense with his physical style and strong hands. Did a very nice job in the Senior Bowl practices of getting open on slant routes with a good deal of separation. 

Medium Routes: 7/10 - While Tennessee failed to use him properly or even throw him catchable footballs, needless to say his potential contributions deep over the middle on dig routes could have been greater. Look to see if this is an area where he improves at the next level. 

Deep Routes: 8.5/10 - A player who can be a vertical threat at the next level. Palmer saw lots of success off deep go routes, which helps him sell vertical on his routes and make them look the same. 

Quickness: 6/10 - While he flashes suddenness in his movement, he's heavy-footed. Not a quick, burner-type player, and doesn't have that accelerator by any means.

Long Speed: 6/10 - Ran a pretty average 4.51 40-yard dash. Palmer's speed and quickness are not his specialities and they are probably not the way he's going to beat you. This receiver is more of a physical presence. 

Zone IQ: 5/10 - This is an area in which Palmer is underdeveloped. While he is likely capable of learning, he needs more coaching on different pointers and technique. With a year or two to develop, this can become more nuanced. However, this is not the kind of guy who would be running option routes over the middle anyway. 

Release: 7/10 - While his release packages can get more diverse, he showed off in his release at the Senior Bowl. Where he did a real good job of attacking leverage regardless of whether his release was inside, outside, or the cornerback was head up. 

50/50 Ball: 7/10 - A player who has good body control and definitely has the hands and size to go up and grab the football. 

Big Play Factor: 6.5/10 - Palmer offered nil after the catch in college, yet he did make some spectacular plays deep downfield and up in the air with great body control. He's a vertical threat by nature. 

Draft Grade: Round 5

Fit with the Patriots:

The site has already covered players like Rashod Bateman and Nico Collins, largely because of the absence of a big X receiver in the New England Patriots' offense. Bateman and Collins should be gone within the first three rounds of the draft, but Palmer could be hanging around a little later. With Julian Edelman retiring just this week, it might make more sense for the Patriots to go after a slot type receiver early and then nabbing a Palmer later than taking a Bateman or Collins. 

When it comes to X receivers, those two are good, yet Palmer is the next-best candidate. He fits a role that New England desperately needs to fill and provides a lot of upside for a likely later-round candidate. Palmer likely will fall in the fourth, fifth rounds of the draft due to just unimpressive height and average athleticism in a stacked receiver class that is uber athletic, along with has a lot more positive clips on film. In a draft that will rely so heavily on film and a player's track record, a player who could be a better pro than college player like Palmer could fall into the laps of a team like the Patriots. 

Palmer could give some competition to third-year player N'Keal Harry and give him some added pressure to perform, assuming the trade rumors weren't enough. Out of this developing duo, one would seemingly have to emerge victorious in winning the X receiver role in New England. Both have plenty of upside and with proper teaching and development, one could blossom and emerge as a potential big-time contributor to the passing offense.