TAMPA — With Tom Brady retired, the Bucs emphasized getting younger, faster and more athletic through the draft this year. Taking Nebraska wide receiver Trey Palmer, who recorded the fastest 40-yard dash at his position at the NFL combine, was believed to be part of that plan.
But the sixth-round pick set the record straight during Saturday’s rookie minicamp at AdventHealth Training Center.
“I really still don’t think I am fast,” Palmer said with a laugh. “I believe I can get better and faster, too. So I really don’t think I’m fast.”
The stopwatches and defensive backs disagree.
Palmer, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds, provided a glimpse when he turned on the afterburners during a few plays at practice.
It was a good way to introduce himself to the team and the league.
With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin atop the depth chart, Palmer knows he is looking for an opportunity. With speedy receiver Scotty Miller gone via free agency, Palmer, 22, could battle Russell Gage (coming off an injury-marred season) for the third spot and become a foundation for the future offense.
Palmer, who spent three years behind others at LSU before transferring to Nebraska, knows what it is like to prove himself.
Though the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Louisiana native is joining a team with an established corps of receivers, he is not daunted by the challenge. In his three years at LSU, he played behind first-round picks Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, as well as Terrace Marshall (second round) and Racey McMath (sixth), on the Tigers’ depth chart.
“I just want to know from those guys,” Palmer said. “I really want to be a pro, too. I want to be the best of the best. I want to be the greatest. I just want to learn, pick up things that they do and that I see from them and what I see in the room from them.”
A top-20 prospect nationally out of high school, Palmer played in 22 games in his three years at LSU, making 41 receptions for 458 yards and three touchdowns.
He transferred to Nebraska last season and led the Cornhuskers with 71 receptions for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns in his only season in Lincoln.
“It was about the opportunity,” Palmer said, “and I just needed to showcase my talent.”
Though Palmer doesn’t consider himself the swiftest guy around, he does consider himself fast in one area — learning and understanding the game. He says his strengths are his versatility and football IQ. He’s already memorizing the Bucs’ playbook and has a good grasp on the concepts he’ll be expected to master.
For Palmer, the father of two young sons, there is nothing more important than family and football. He turns off his phone at home and spends his spare time reviewing and thinking about plays.
“I study every day. Even when I’m just laying in bed. I don’t really do anything when I get home. I just relax and really just look over the plays,” Palmer said. “I turn the playbook off and just give me a list of plays, and I write the plays out on a board. It just helped me memorize it.”
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Palmer may have a chance to move in on some reps at wideout, but he could make a quick mark on special teams. Again, it is a similar situation to his time in Baton Rouge.
Palmer returned both punts and kickoffs during all four years in college. He sees it as a chance to show the Bucs what they have in him.
“I just want to be great and to help my team win. That’s all I want; just help the team win,” he said. “I just really want to give it all my energy and let them know that they got a dawg.”
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