Canadian receiver Josh Palmer focuses on running fast, boosting NFL Draft stock at Tennessee pro day

Photo courtesy: Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Canadian receiver Josh Palmer has been training for pure speed.

Palmer takes the field for his NFL pro day at the University of Tennessee on Thursday, March 25. He just wants to run fast in the 40-yard sprint and put all of his effort into doing so.

“No specific goal, I got ranges I want to be in. I want to run anything in the 4.4s to no higher than a 4.53, that’s what I’m aiming for,” Palmer said in a videoconference.

“I haven’t timed for a while now, but I’ve been in those ranges, so we’re about to find out. I want to show that I’m fast.”

The 21-year-old Brampton native has been training at XPE Sports in Fort Lauderdale, Florida since playing in the Senior Bowl in January. He’s been learning from three-time Pro Bowl pass catcher Anquan Boldin in the Sunshine State. Boldin knows how to prepare for the next level and make the jump quickly, which he proved by winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2003.

“I try to focus on things I can improve on. 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 said.

“Just keeping my head down and going to work every day. I definitely want to test well, but anything I want to prove is on the playing field.”

That’s what Palmer did at the Senior Bowl — the top NCAA showcase event for senior NFL Draft prospects. He created a buzz during practices and capped the week with two receptions for 27 yards and one touchdown in the game televised on NFL Network. Palmer was considered one of the players who boosted their stock the most.

“Really good Senior Bowl week — a lot of 50-50-ball wins,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said.

“I like Josh Palmer. To me, he’s like a third, fourth round receiver who can really get vertical.”

During 46 career games with the Tennessee Volunteers, Palmer made 96 catches for 1,459 yards and seven touchdowns, including 475 yards and four scores as a senior. He managed to produce in the Southeastern Conference — considered the best in the NCAA — despite inconsistent quarterback play throughout his collegiate career. That could be due in part to the two NFL receivers he idolizes.

“Julio Jones, I like to study how he comes screaming off the ball, how he’s able to stop and transition in and out of cuts — I love the way he plays,” Palmer said.

“Davante Adams, I love his releases, his route savviness, the way he gets defenders moving off their spot.”

Palmer wants to become a pro like Jones and Adams. He’s interviewed with all 32 NFL teams through the draft process, which makes him a surefire bet to be selected. It’s a goal he set for himself as a kid: play in the NFL.

“I visualize it all the time, that’s been a dream of mine since a young age,” Palmer said. “Attacking the pro day and after that it will be getting ready for an NFL camp, so that’s what I focus on.”

Proving the high-end speed is there could jump Palmer up franchise rankings around the NFL and increase his odds of making a final roster.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.