Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Trey Palmer: "The Lights Will Never Be Too Bright" 

Buccaneers’ wide receiver Trey Palmer has garnered attention during the preseason for his contributions on the grass and his positional coach weighs in on the rookie’s ascension

Trey Palmer story

In recent years across the NFL landscape, it has become more common for rookie receivers to become offensive catalysts in their first season. Players such as Odell Beckham Jr., A.J. Brown, Justin Jefferson and Garrett Wilson - the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year - have helped re-write the preconceived narrative. Historically, it is a taboo custom to link a receiver to the phrase 'breakout star' with countless unknown factors in play. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rookie Trey Palmer has already garnered attention between the hash marks for several highlight-worthy catches, showcasing a promising threshold in Tampa Bay. 

During the preseason opener at Raymond James Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Palmer made an impression. Quarterback Baker Mayfield connected with Palmer for an eight-yard touchdown. Mayfield floated the ball over the outstretched fingers of Steelers' defensive back James Pierre and Palmer secured the catch, getting both feet down to tie the game at seven. In his professional debut, Palmer tracked the ball well and spun around midair to make the grab. He concluded the game with four catches for 33 yards and the single touchdown.

The following week in a joint practice with the Jets on Wednesday at the Atlantic Health Training Center in New Jersey, Palmer proved his worth against the league's upper echelon at the cornerback position: Sauce Gardner. Palmer, who ran a blazing 4.33 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, beat Gardner on a post route and brought in a 60-yard lob from Kyle Trask to conclude that 11-on-11 portion of practice.

Palmer's stellar streak continued against the Jets in preseason Week Two. At MetLife Stadium, Kyle Trask launched a 33-yard pass to Palmer downfield. Palmer initially jumped up and tipped the ball to himself with his right hand, then pulled it down to solidify the catch with both hands in the end zone versus sticky coverage. Palmer is the first Tampa Bay rookie with multiple preseason touchdown receptions since Justin Watson also had two in 2018. Through the conclusion of Tampa Bay's game, Palmer is 1-of-2 players, and the lone rookie, with multiple touchdown receptions. He has accumulated five receptions for 66 yards (13.2 avg.) and two touchdowns through Week Two of the preseason.

"Trey's skillset obviously includes long speed, but he also possesses a great knack for tracking and adjusting to the ball downfield," said Buccaneers' Wide Receivers Coach Brad Idzik. "Not all speedsters can adjust to throws like Trey can. He's continuing to add little tools to his game with the physical nature of defensive backs at this level and the beauty is, he has the best examples of that right in front of him in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. His progression of fighting for balls in traffic like you saw in the joint practices and in the Jets game, are great examples of Trey's ability to not only run away from defenders but also secure catches surrounded by them."

The Buccaneers selected Palmer in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft with the No. 191 overall pick (via trade with the Eagles). After three years at LSU, Palmer transferred to Nebraska for his senior season, setting school records for receiving yards in both a season and a game (compiled 40 more catches and 572 more yards than the second-leading receiver for the Cornhuskers in 2022). He ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the Combine among wide receivers and perhaps even more impressively, Palmer's flying 20 (the second-half of the 40) was the second-fastest among all players (1.81). In Nebraska's pro-style scheme, Palmer lined up in the slot as well as on the outside. With rare vertical burst, Palmer led the FBS with three catches of 70-plus yards in 2022.

Since entering the NFL, Palmer's skillset has been on full display. Palmer possesses elite speed to take the top off defenses, high-point capability, ball-tracking downfield and speed variations at the top of his routes to catch defenders off guard. At the collegiate level, he became known for a lethal 'dip move' to the outside on post routes. Once Palmer caught the defensive back leaning in those instances, he would cut to the right for a footrace to the end zone. Palmer is electric and crafty in space, drawing coverages by the threat of his speed on the perimeter via jet sweeps, reverses and screens. He can stretch defenses both horizontally and vertically, with change-of-direction agility to avoid tacklers in the short-to-intermediate game and prowess to attack the leverage of defensive backs downfield with fluid acceleration.

"With Trey, it's pretty simple: His biggest asset is his speed," noted Idzik. "The defense, one way or another, needs to feel his speed whether he's taking the top off or running shorter/intermediate routes. That being said, we've really worked on making the first 5-6 steps off the ball look the same. If he gives no tips or tells to corners on what route he is running, then they will be playing on their heels all game because he is such a vertical threat. When it comes to film, when he may have a hiccup, I refer back to plays where he does things well to remind him what it looks like to the defense when he is really running.

"Our utilization of jets sweeps/motions helps every phase of our offense and Trey will be a big part of that. One of his first big plays in OTAs was one of these sweeps where offensive coaches started looking at each other like 'We really do have something here.' In general, moving a fast guy like Trey around also makes it tough for defenses to work doubles and bracket coverages on our other weapons. Stagnant alignments eventually become stale and predictable by all the great coordinators in this league, so the "move" element that our offense brings will help shake a lot of guys free (including Trey), and just work one-on-one matchups which, at the end of the day, we feel good about working."

Palmer became a primary weapon for the Cornhuskers and with Russell Gage's unfortunate season-ending injury, there is a void that will have to be filled in the Bucs' receiver room behind stalwarts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. That duo sets the standard of excellence in the league and Palmer is surrounded by an emboldening environment to cultivate growth. He has taken advantage of opportunities and has earned a spot in the 11 personnel rotation. The first-year player has a gregarious, playful personality that can often create a negative stereotype that is the antithesis of a dedicated student, however, Palmer embodies both aspects.

"The first thing that impressed me with Trey after he officially became a Buc was his mental approach and how quick he picks things up," Idzik remarked. "Trey soaks things up like a sponge and I think it catches people off guard (at least it caught me off guard), because he is also the funny guy in the room. The majority of the time, the guy who is keeping the room loose and cracking jokes is not always the most attentive with the details or putting in the time with the mental side of the game, but that's just not the case with Trey. He plays both roles in the receiver room (student and entertainer) well. Something I've learned about Trey since I began working with him is his fearlessness of the moment. The lights will never be too bright, or moment too big. His balance of being confident, studious and loose keeps him primed for big plays when his number is called. Trey will always be, unapologetically, Trey, and that's a good thing. I'm really glad he's a Buc."

Thus far, Palmer has demonstrated poise under immense pressure on the gridiron. During the preseason, as NFL hopefuls vie to solidify a spot on the coveted final 53-man roster, Palmer has risen to the challenge. With tantalizing athletic traits, a cerebral approach to the game and increased reps, Palmer will continue to enhance his craftsmanship as a route-running technician at the pro level. It is too early to label Palmer as a 'breakout star,' but he is a newcomer that jumps off the tape.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - August 19, 2023 - Wide Receiver Trey Palmer #10 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets. The Bucs won the game, 13-6. Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Latest Headlines