We have talked ad nauseam about the 2023 WR class being quite different than the past few years. The top tier is one player deep, the second tier is scattered with question marks, and the third tier is, essentially, the rest of the prospects.
On top of this, the profiles of these receivers are not blowing people away. There are a lot of receivers under 5’11” and under 190 lbs in this draft. And there are not too many who showed great speed in the 40 at the combine.
But one name that does fit the prototypical mold for what we look for in a WR prospect is Nebraska’s, Trey Palmer. While highly graded out of high school, Palmer has not been discussed nearly as much as other prospects in this class. Could he surprise on NFL draft night and become an interesting name for dynasty owners? Let’s find out.
- College: Nebraska
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 192 lbs
- Hand Size: 9 5/8”
- Age: 22
- Year: Senior
- Draft Projection: Fourth Round
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.33
Palmer went to Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Louisiana, where he was highly recruited. He was a four-star recruit in the 2019 class and had offers from Alabama, Arizona St., Florida, LSU, and Mississippi, all of which he visited.
Ultimately, Palmer decided to stay in his home state. He tweeted, “There’s no place like home,” and committed to LSU in the 2019 class. Palmer was the number 18 WR in the 2019 class and the sixth-best recruit in Louisiana.
Palmer’s college journey led him to two different campuses but also had him brushing shoulders with some premier NFL talent. As a Freshman, Palmer was dropped into one of the best college football teams in recent history: the 2019 National Champion LSU Tigers.
Palmer was on a roster with Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, and Terrace Marshall ahead of him on the depth chart and was catching passes in practices from Joe Burrow. He had to try and beat corner talent like Derek Stingley Jr. in practices.
As you can imagine, this led to Palmer not seeing much action as a Freshman. He dressed in five games for the Tigers and caught one six-yard pass all season.
His Sophomore and Junior years at LSU didn’t end up going a whole lot better. Palmer had only ten receptions for 108 yards in his second year at LSU. He followed with 30 catches for 344 yards and three touchdowns as a Junior.
With a combination of top talent taking priority early in his career and significant turnover amongst players and staff at LSU, Palmer never got to showcase himself with the Tigers. After his Junior year, he entered the transfer portal and left LSU for the University of Nebraska.
In his Senior year in Lincoln, Palmer finally broke out. He had 71 receptions (fifth in the B1G Ten) for 1,043 yards (fourth in the B1G Ten) and nine touchdowns (fourth in the B1G Ten). His 14.7 yards per catch shows his big-play ability, which is coupled with the 4.33 40 time he ran at the combine last month.
Palmer also showed the ability to have an impact on Special Teams, returning punts and kicks for both LSU and Nebraska in his time in college. If anything, this added skillset will give NFL teams another reason to look Palmer’s way as a prospect that can contribute to their team.
As stated previously, Palmer ran a 4.33 40 at the combine in March. That is blazing fast. For reference, it is the top 40 time in the 2023 class amongst wide receivers and the fourth fastest 40 overall.
When you watch Palmer’s tape, that speed is evident. He is able to find an extra gear when chasing down passes or with the ball already in his hands that defenders don’t have around him.
Rarely used in the running game, he did show the ability to make big plays happen on end-arounds. If the right offensive mind molds Palmer at the next level, he could be a threat rushing the ball as well. And anything to get added opportunity is a plus for fantasy owners.
All over Palmer’s tape, you see him getting open and winning contested balls on vertical routes. Of his nine touchdowns his Senior season, only three were under 20 yards. This includes touchdowns of 71, 72, and 87 yards.
Because of his speed, Palmer is able to effectively set up his defender and take advantage of what is being given to him on his routes. Several times you can see the added cushion given by a defender and the corner/safety trying to anticipate Palmer’s next move instead of reacting to what he does. When Palmer takes advantage of this, he is usually wide open for a big gain or even a touchdown
While Palmer is much closer to the prototypical frame you want in a prospect, it is not very often that you see him leveraging that to his advantage. Palmer tends to look for open space rather than getting physical.
When Palmer reaches the NFL level, he won’t have a ton of experience having to win against a physical corner. Some of this is due to the offense he was in at Nebraska. Some will have to do with the added cushion college-level corners gave him. But this could be a challenge at the next level when the competition is so much higher.
Limited Production Prior to Senior Year
I always worry when I see a prospect that has only one good year of college production. Especially when that doesn’t come until their Senior season. On top of this, Palmer didn’t start finding success until he left the SEC and played in an inferior conference (from an overall competition standpoint) in the B1G Ten.
Palmer was highly recruited and had a lot of competition at LSU when he first arrived. But not being able ever to establish himself in Baton Rouge is concerning. By the time he was a Sophomore, all the premier talent ahead of him was not playing in the yellow and purple. Taking as long as he did to breakout and needing to move schools to do so is a bit of a red flag.
Palmer will be another receiver in this class that is landing spot and draft capital dependent. I certainly am interested in Palmer, with his speed and build. But if he falls later than the fourth round in the NFL draft, my excitement will diminish dramatically.
Palmer has plus attributes and skills at Special Teams, which will help him stand apart from the average prospects in this draft. But ultimately, an NFL team needs to feel comfortable spending the capital. If we see this, it will be a lot easier to draft Palmer to our fantasy rosters.
Ideally, Palmer would land somewhere that needs help across their receiving core. Palmer played a lot of slot in college. He does have a frame that would lead you to believe he can play outside as well. If he goes somewhere that has opportunity for him to play at any role in the offense, it increases his odds of being a fantasy relevant player quite a bit.
I see Palmer currently as a late-third-round pick in dynasty drafts. He has attributes that make him ideal for fantasy scoring. But he will need to get the playing time at the next level for any of that to matter.
Am I way off-base? Or is this an accurate rookie analysis? Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @timbmartens and let me know where you rank this rookie. And stay tuned to Dynasty Nerds for more rookie profiles.
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