Josh Palmer remains firmly entrenched in the grind that is preparing for the NFL draft, but Canadian receiver still allows himself the luxury of thinking about what might lie ahead.
"Of course, I visualize it all the time," the Brampton, Ont., native told reporters during a video conference Wednesday, the day before Tennessee's pro day. "That's been a dream of mine since a young age but right now it's just taking one step at a time.
"This next step is a pro day and to attack the pro day, After that, it will be getting ready for an NFL camp so that's what I focus on."
The six-foot-two, 210-pound Palmer is hoping to test well for NFL officials, which includes posting a fast 40-yard dash time.
"I want to run anything in the 4.40s," he said. "I haven't timed for a while now but I've been in those ranges so we'll find out.
"I definitely want to test well but anything I want to prove is on the playing field."
Palmer had 33 catches for 475 yards and three touchdowns at Tennessee last year. He started 36-of-47 career games for the Volunteers, registering 99 receptions for 1,514 yards with seven TDs while running for another score.
Sixty-nine of his career catches were for a first down with 16 being for 25 or more yards. Palmer participated in the Senior Bowl in January, registering two receptions for 27 yards and a TD for the American team, which lost 27-24 to the National squad.
"He looked smooth and fluid in one-on-ones," Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com wrote of Palmer following the first practice session. "He was able to get over the top of coverage and tracked the ball well.
"There wasn't a lot of buzz about him coming into the week but I thought he was really consistent."
Jeremiah had Palmer graded as a third- to fourth-round selection in the 2021 NFL draft slated for April 29-May 1. Palmer was also ranked No. 2 on the CFL scouting bureau's winter list of the top-20 prospects for this year's draft.
But the CFL will have to wait as Palmer added he spoke with all 32 NFL teams in Mobile, Ala.
"It was definitely a great experience to get my feet wet with an NFL offence," he said. "Just being able to show I can grasp plays, concepts and schemes."
The scouting report on Palmer says he has good size, tracks the ball well when it's in the air and extends his hands to make the catch and keep it from his body. Scouts also like his body control and ability to come back to the ball out of his break and that he offers a big target for quarterbacks.
Among the negatives, though, was he ran simple routes at Tennessee and will have to "expand his route tree," to succeed in the NFL. And some officials feel Palmer also has footwork issues that will need fixing to help him create separation with pro defensive backs.
His play at the Senior Bowl impressed many, however, and Palmer remains concerned only about matters he can control.
"I just keep my head down and go to work every day," he said. "I've never been that type of guy to let the outside media get to me.
"I always try to focus on things I can improve. The success will speak for itself eventually so I just go into every day trying to learn something new and embrace the whole experience."
Palmer has two pretty good examples to follow. He lists star receivers Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons) and Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers) as his favourite NFL players.
"I like to study how (Jones) comes off the ball, how he's able to stop in transition in and out of cuts," Palmer said. "I love the way he plays.
"Davante Adams, I love his releases . . . the way he gets defenders moving off their spot. I study them a lot."
Palmer said his time at Tennessee and in the ultra-competitive SEC have prepared him to compete at the pro level, be it as a wide receiver or in the slot.
""Playing in the SEC will definitely help," he said. "There's a lot of great talented players I played against week in and week out and that will prepare me for the next level.
"Playing in the slot, I just have to be ready as a player to be anywhere. Coach Tee (former Tennessee receivers coach Tee Martin, who's now the Baltimore Ravens' receivers coach) used to emphasize slots or wideouts don't make it to the NFL, receivers make it to the NFL.
"I just have to be able to go in or out when I have to."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2021.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press