Digging For Diamonds: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss, – 2022 NFL Draft
An injury during his final collegiate football game in the Sugar Bowl against the Baylor Bears may have momentarily subdued the hype train leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft for the Ole Miss Rebels starting QB, but make no mistakes, Matt Corral has several of the attributes that teams are in search of on the quest for their next face of the franchise.
A former 4 star recruit who was highly recruited by several of the most prestigious college programs in the country which included scholarship offers from USC, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Alabama. As a high school senior he competed in the Elite 11 camp which is organized and coached by former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer where the best young QB prospects in the nation gather to showcase their skills and further hone their crafts. The 2017 class of Elite 11 participants was loaded and also included future top 10 picks Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. He performed admirably during the camp and earned applause and adoration from several scouts and coaches for his natural arm talent and future upside.
- Height: 6″1
- Weight: 205 pounds
- 2021 2nd Team ALL SEC
- 2021 Stats: 68% completion percentage, 20 touchdowns, 4 INT’s 3,339 Yards (12 games)
- Career Stats: 27 career starts, 17-10 record
- 8, 287 career passing yards (9.4 yards per attempt), 57 touchdowns to 23 interceptions
- 334 career carries, 1,338 yards, 18 touchdowns (4 yards per carry), 7 fumbles lost
In draft circles when the term “arm talent” is discussed, arm strength and the ability to create velocity with the ball is usually the trait that receives the most importance when looking for the next superstar prospect. As the draft community has become more sophisticated the importance of other intrinsic aspects of throwing the ball have taken much more importance. This includes passes with anticipation, touch, release speed, the ability to throw from varied angles under pressure, and ball placement. The Ventura, California native has a very strong argument to being the prospect in this class who checks off the most of these integral boxes.
Corral throws one of the most beautiful deep ball in this class; effortlessly can step into throws that travel over 60+ yards in the air to his intended target. With a mere flick of a wrist he can unload rainbow moonballs that regularly fall in his receivers hand in stride. Has routinely proven his aptitude at driving the ball to the outside boundary from either hashmark. The redshirt junior’s footwork as a passer is also a plus trait as he’s shown the ability to maneuver through dirty pockets while avoiding pass rushers. His upper body moves in a harmonious nature with his legs which allows him square his body when pressured without losing arm strength or accuracy.
An aggressive downfield passer who loves taking deep shots down the field, this falls on both sides of the pros and cons spectrum. A reoccurring theme on tape is Corral locking into receivers who are being double and tripled in coverage while there was a higher percentage play to be made. 11 of his 14 interceptions as a sophomore in 2020 were thrown between two separate games against Arkansas and LSU. He has a tendency to get extremely invested in plays that lead to a series of unfortunate events. This was an issue that plagued him much more frequent during his first year as a full time starter, he did tone down some of the hero ball antics of his game during his junior season (only 5 interceptions on 386 attempts).
Highly proficient at taking advantage of soft zone coverage by linebackers and defensive backs by attacking them with vertical seam routes from his tight ends and slot receivers. These type of passes require savvy diagnostic skills to detect and anticipate where defenders will be as well as pinpoint accuracy to fit into tight windows that could turn into six points for the other team if thrown a second late.
Lane Kiffin’s offense at Ole Miss heavily utilized jet sweep run-pass-option motions to create havoc on opposing linebackers. Corral possesses effective in game accuracy to all three levels on the field. His throwing mechanics are extremely quick and compact allowing him to get the ball out off platform from funky angles like a middle infielder turning a double play. He completed 69% of his completions over his two full seasons as a starter at Ole Miss.
Due to the nature of college offenses many of those passes were rudimentary reads you would expect most collegiate QB’s to make that will not reflect the pre snap mental processing it requires to survive against NFL defenses. However to his credit, Corral did show the capacity to effectively toggle through his reads and keep deep field safeties off the scent of where he wants to go with the football with his eye level manipulation.
Corral’s elusiveness both as a passer and a runner are apart of what makes him a potential gamebreaker at the NFL level. The first person in his line of sight rarely gets a hand on him as he is extremely slippery when it comes to avoiding pressure. Doesn’t bail at the first sign of pressure, effectively leverages his evasiveness not only to extend plays as a rusher but also to step up into the pocket and throw darts to open receivers. During the heat of the game while plays are breaking down has a keen awareness and understanding of angles, knows when lanes to scramble open up at the most opportune time.
Underrated athlete who’s able to makes players miss in the open field with sharp cuts, defenders frequently underestimated his quickness leading to poor pursuit angles and missed tackles. NFL play callers will be able to design a creative run game with a bunch of pre snap motion and designed plays that gets him outside of the pocket where he becomes dangerous. 11 rushing touchdowns his final collegiate season huge threat to score the red zone, not afraid to run QB power despite not having the burliest frame to absorb contact.
At times his running style could be described as reckless, as he attempts to lower his shoulder and fight for as many yards as possible. Tough kid who played through nagging injuries which should only garner the respect of his future teammates. Durability will be an issue to watch with Corral, over the course of his career he had to leave several games for multiple series at a time with a myriad of assorted injury issues. After starting his redshirt freshman season as a starter an injury to his ribcage led to him missing a few games, when he returned he found himself on the short side of a two headed quarterback platoon further delaying his ultimate coming out party to the casual football viewer. The ankle injury that knocked him out during the Sugar Bowl was also another reoccurring injury that was suffered earlier in the second half of his season.
Scouts of NFL teams will have to earn their salaries as they prepare for the 2022 draft cycle. This draft lacks consensus from the public about which quarterback has the brightest future, internal team boards are likely to differ drastically from one evaluator to another. As always, fit and organizational environment will play a massive variable in the product that these young prospects develop into. His inconsistencies with footwork at times, and short arming passes aren’t warts that can’t be solved with the proper guidance. Corral showed improvement from his first full season as a starter to his second, upward trajectory is one of the best signs when projecting future growth in young players. He has the potential to be a future fantasy stud and possibly the best quarterback in this class.