It always helps to have a source of inspiration, which is exactly what Chase Claypool provided NFL hopeful Josh Palmer this past season.
“He had a phenomenal year,” said Palmer in a videoconference. “I didn’t really pay attention to him in college just because I had my own team to pay attention to, but I always heard his named called. It’s great to see him flourish in the NFL. It’s inspiring.”
Chase Claypool cemented his status as a top NFL prospect at the Senior Bowl in 2020 by catching a touchdown pass. He went on to be selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, making 62 receptions for 873 yards and nine scores plus two rushing touchdowns as a rookie.
Palmer matched Claypool’s output from the Senior Bowl when he recorded two receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown in 2021. He also interviewed with all 32 NFL teams, laying the groundwork for getting selected on draft day.
“The Senior Bowl was an honour to be a part of,” said Palmer. “I was able to make a lot of connections and meet a lot of guys that I never would’ve met on other teams. It was quite the experience to be there and I’m thankful for Jim Nagy for inviting me and believing in my talent.”
Not a lot of Canadian players make their way to the NCAA’s highly-touted Southeastern Conference. A native of Brampton, Ont., Palmer transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida before reaching college to try and attract offers from top schools.
“A lot of scouts and coaches were fascinated with my story,” Palmer said. “It was really just me being me and creating relationships with them.”
Palmer is part of a growing number of young Canadians who are making an impact in the the NFL. Neville Gallimore, a third-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys, had a strong rookie season in 2020, while college stars such as running back Chuba Hubbard and receiver John Metchie III will soon reach the professional ranks.
“I compare it basketball. A while ago there was this huge wave of Canadians being pushed into the NBA,” said Palmer. “We’re just trying to create that movement for the NFL. There’s a lot more talent where we come from and we’re just fortunate enough to be in the group right now. The goal is to eventually make it a lot easier for talent to be shown back home.”
Palmer caught 99 passes for 1,514 yards and seven touchdowns over four seasons at the University of Tennessee. He is currently projected to be drafted in the third or fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, which is slated for April 29 to May 1.