What Chargers fans can expect from Josh Palmer in 2023 and beyond

The Chargers' wide receiver room appears to be in great shape and is as deep as it has been for a while. Josh Palmer proved to be an important cog in the machine last year with injuries hitting hard. But what are Palmer's prospects in 2023?

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders / Steve Marcus/GettyImages
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It is April 27th, 2023, the first day of the NFL Draft in Kansas City. With the 21st pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers select, Quentin Johnston, wide receiver, TCU.

At that moment, the likelihood that Josh Palmer would slip to wide receiver 4 on the depth chart grew. A strange position for a player coming off his most productive season to date, where he proved an able deputy for both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams when they were sidelined. 

What can Chargers fans expect out of Josh Palmer in 2023 and beyond?

Joshua Palmer was rehabbing during Chargers minicamp and was not participating. Meanwhile, Quentin Johnston was making plays and the NFL was taking notice.

It appears that Palmer has some ground to make up because the NFL is such a what have you done for me lately league, and recency bias is a real thing for fans, coaches, and media alike. Although, as we saw from Michael Davis in 2022, you can be the fourth choice at your position heading into the beginning of training camp and by the season’s end you can be an integral piece of the puzzle.  Palmer is now healthy for training camp and has been making plays, so the rise can start now.

Mike Williams took some snaps in the slot to start training camp, so it appears that we will see the Chargers adopt a fluid attitude to where the weapons line up this coming season. If Williams is in the slot, there’s an opportunity for Palmer to line up outside alongside Johnston at times, as well as the down, distance, and situation dictating who is on the field at a given time. 

Let’s not forget that 12 months ago, Palmer was a breakout candidate and he was being mentored by Keenan Allen, working closely with the Chargers legend on his routes, footwork, and releases in particular. That work certainly bore fruit, as Palmer’s counting stats in terms of targets, catches and yards all increased by over double.

The Tennessee product has similar size to Allen, and similar physical attributes in the sense that neither player relies on pure athleticism to win on any given play. Would it be outlandish to suggest that Palmer could be groomed to be the successor to Allen as the Chargers’ crafty, go-to, third-down option? Perhaps there are some ways to go, but it doesn’t strike me as an outrageous thought.

As mentioned, Palmer’s usage and statistical output took huge leaps in 2022. Some in part to his development as a player and some due to the absence of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. Palmer, despite a couple of his own injuries, was on the field for 898 offensive plays last year, compared to 703 and 515 for Williams and Allen respectively.

Looking beyond 2023, when it looks likely that at least one of Williams or Allen will be cut from the team due to cap constraints, those snaps will need to go to other players. If Palmer can sit tight and continue to do the best he can in more limited action in 2023, 2024 could see him ascend to a starting role in 2024 and beyond alongside Johnston, with this new duo becoming the focal point of the passing attack for Justin Herbert

Back to Palmer’s 2023 outlook, I would predict a slight downturn in yardage and receptions for the former Volunteer, due to there simply being more mouths to feed in the offense. However, that isn’t to say that his role will be insignificant; Palmer is a scrappy and improving run blocker as well as an ascending receiver.

With Kellen Moore’s new multi-faceted offense, there will be a place at the table for Palmer moving forward, he just may have to wait until 2024 to truly eat.

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