A closer look at Chris Palmer

The search to replace this big fella continues. - Jamie Sabau

The final recruit of 2014.

Well, this is a bit of a surprise, isn't it? It's not too often that you'll snag a recruit months after signing day, although in our case, this is the second consecutive class that this has happened in. (Trey Cheek wasn't made official until like, March last year.)

That being said, the addition of Chris Palmer has to be a nice bonus, especially when so many of the defensive tackles on the rosters have a question mark or another. Just look:

  • Harrison Wilfley -- starter after spring, but has yet to start a college game. Last year of eligibility.
  • Marcus Manley -- starter after spring, but has yet to start a college game. Redshirted, has two years of eligibility after '14.
  • Jacobi Hunter -- ???
  • Mustafa Jalil -- injured for most of the last two seasons, took zero reps during spring again. Even optimistic projections can't say what he'll bring this year just yet.
  • Austin Clark -- could be in rotation, but last year of eligibility.

That leaves Bradley Northnagel, who doubles as longsnapper, Trevor Kelly, and Tony Mekari as the only guys without real concerns, or who will be returning for sure next year. That's three (four, if you count Manley), out of eight; and really, four out of six, after this year. In a word, not good, and it's made worse when you remember that we missed out on Marcus Griffin last cycle.

Palmer helps, though. Let's see what he's bringing to campus.

The tape

Below are my thoughts, but I want to apologize in advance for this not being my best scouting report. Line play is already my area of least expertise, but on top of that, it's not great quality video, so that ended up limiting what I could see, and I mean that quite literally:

  • In the Naval Academy's defense -- by the way, that's a prep school, not to be confused with the actual Navy -- Palmer lines up primarily as a 0-tech nose, with what I think are two gap responsibilities. The video makes it look ike he's got some decent pursuit to the outside and an okay motor/hustle, although not enough speed to chase down quarterbacks just yet.
  • His first step seems adequate, in situations when he's shaded -- here as a 1 tech -- and able to shoot a gap, and also sometimes to beat opposing linemen to the point. In terms of hand play, this clip is one of the only instances where you'll see him forcibly get open that way, and I think that is indicative of an area of his game that still needs improvement.
  • It does look like he understands leverage, gap control, and body positioning, though. Take a look at how he looks into the strong side A gap at first, but then takes over the weakside one as well, when he cuts back across to make that tackle. Here, he makes sure to stay on the outside shoulder of the center, allowing the linebacker behind him to fill the other A gap. All good qualities you want to see up front.
  • If that listed weight of 290 is correct, the 6'4 Palmer does bring some good size -- he'd be just as big as any of the guys we expect to contribute this fall, and bigger than projected starter Harrison Wilfley. That's some good news for a front that has been undersized in recent years.
  • However, I am personally not predicting him to play this fall, because of the currently rostered guys who remain in the mix -- question marks or not -- and because he still looks really raw and undistinctive on film. Even though there's probably only a few games worth of footage here, you'd like to see a player up front be consistently destructive/disruptive here, and he doesn't quite do so yet. Sure, he's strong-ish, quick-ish, but the tape signals project to me, although the fact that he has the full 5 to play 4 means that he has plenty of time to develop further and see the field down the line. Let's see what Coach Tate can do to coach him up.
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