Why Josh Palmer is ready to jump up in the Chargers’ receiver room

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

There are a few young players around the league looking to make a jump in prominence and production in the second years of their NFL careers. One of those players is Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Josh Palmer. So far in minicamp, Palmer has lined up as the WR3 with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, and he’s already turning some heads.

“He’s been much more confident,” quarterback Justin Herbert has said of Palmer. “He’s a guy that came in really early last year and he picked up the offense pretty easily. But this year it’s a different Josh Palmer out there. He knows exactly where he’s going. We throw a bunch after practice. I feel comfortable with him.”

Selected in the third round of the 2021 draft out of Tennessee, Palmer is a 6-foot-2 possession receiver who can get early separation with his route running, and he can also grab contested balls over the top. Last year, Palmer ended the season with 33 receptions for 353 yards and four touchdowns: while only playing a total of 38% of the offense’s total snaps.

Let’s go to the film to see why Palmer should be the third option in the Chargers’ offense!

Route-running

Palmer is a flat-out playmaker. One of the main reasons why he is likely to win the WR3 position is because of his football IQ paired with his route running. Palmer has quick feet out of his release, and a high football acumen when it comes to finding an open space against zone defenses.

Last year, Williams had this to say about Palmer’s skillset, “He be balling… Josh is smooth”. Added Williams: “He sinks his hips real good.”

What Williams is referring to is when Palmer is about to make his break, whether that is for a comeback route, pivots or slants, he gets low when breaking out of his route, which allows him to turn at the drop of a dime.

In the clip below, Palmer is running a whip route from outside the hash to the middle of the field. Since the linebackers are waiting to break to the ball, it’s important that Palmer gets horizontal to the sideline as quickly as possible.

In the clip below, Palmer is up against cornerback Kendall Fuller, and he’s running an out-route. Palmer starts running at the defenders outside hip and then quickly sells the vertical route which opens the defenders’ hips. As soon as Fuller is ready to turn and run with Palmer, he sinks down to turn and gets immediately open at the sideline.

Palmer is not an explosive playmaker, but more of a technical receiver with an ability to maintain his play-speed down-field. Getting separation is one of the most important skillsets to have in the NFL, and Palmer has potential to be elite in this regard.

Reliability when it's time to move the sticks

One aspect of Palmer’s game that we’ve noticed after his rookie year is his reliability. According to Pro Football Focus, when he was playing for the University of Tennessee, 70% of his catches resulted in a first down. This is similar to what he did for the Chargers last year. Palmer ended up with 18 first downs on only 33 receptions. That means that 54% of his catches resulted in first downs.

This is a big reason why when Allen was hurt in week 14, against the New York Giants, Palmer came in and played 87% of the offense’s total snaps and ended the day 66 yards and a touchdown.

He is able to get his body past the first down marker, and then slow down maintaining good position to make an uncontested catch at the sideline. This was a great pass by Herbert and an equally impressive catch by Palmer.

Over the next five weeks, Palmer would go on to play 66% of the total offensive snaps and pull in three touchdowns while maintaining a 71% catching percentage at 7.8 average yards per reception.

Winning as a possession receiver

If Palmer wants to compete for the third receiver spot, he will have to carry the momentum from the end of the last season into the start of this season.

If he can maintain his status as a possession receiver who Herbert can rely on late in plays, against man and zone coverages, he has a chance to earn a ton of playing time.

Last year in week 17, the Chargers were in need of a touchdown and Palmer was able to find the soft spot within the Las Vegas Raiders zone to catch a bullet from Herbert.

Palmer continues to show his impressive route running, reliability and ball skills when given the chance. In the clip below, there were two impressive catches by Palmer which helped him get more snaps as the end of the season neared.

It’s likely that Jalen Guyton and Palmer will be competing for the WR3 spot this season. Although Guyton is a speedster and who’s shown that he can spread the field, Palmer is more of an all-around player who can come in and play as the Z receiver, who can block, and win contested catches. He will also play the big slot to get separation underneath when the Chargers need the first down.

It’s possible that if Palmer does win that WR3 spot, he could finish the season with 800 yards and seven or eight touchdowns.

1

1