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Summer Scouting Series: Ole Miss QB Matt Corral

New summer series for Steelers Depot highlighting a handful of 2022 NFL Draft hopefuls and options for the Pittsburgh Steelers we could be talking a lot more about nine months from now.

Our next report is Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral.

#2 Matt Corral/QB/Ole Miss — 6’1″, 205 lbs.

The Good

– Has good speed and athleticism for the position
– Is mobile in the pocket and can get away from pressure to extend plays
– Can be a threat running the football as a scrambler or when the defense doesn’t account for him
– Has impressive arm strength that can put the ball on his man accurately 50+ yards downfield or on his receiver in a hurry over the middle
– Has a live arm and can make throws to all quadrants of the field
– Shows moments of good touch on the ball, dropping into his receivers in tight windows
– Not afraid of throwing into tight windows and is an aggressive passer, trusting his receivers to make plays
– Has active feet in the pocket and can be dangerous when allowed to step up to uncork it deep
– Can throw on the run by making off-platform throws from different body positions and still put it on his man
– Plays with an edge and a competitive demeanor you like to see out of your QB

The Bad

– Lacks the height and build you like to see in a traditional franchise QB
– Missed time in 2019 due to injury, coupled with smaller stature can lead to durability concerns
– Benefitted from an offensive system where there were a lot of RAC opportunities and easy reads, potentially inflating his stats
– Lives life on the edge as a gunslinger and will get caught sometimes throwing passes where they ought not to go trying to make a play
– Will try to force balls into coverage or extend the play when he should take his checkdown option or take the sack
– Only one full year of starting experience under his belt

Bio

– Redshirt Junior prospect from Ventura, CA
– U.S. Army All-America selection and former four-star recruit coached by former NFL LB Antonio Pierce at Long Beach Poly
– Earned offers from the likes of Alabama and USC, but decided to commit to Ole Miss
– Played in four games as a freshman in 2018 and was later redshirted, completing 16 of 22 passes (72.7%) for 239 yards and two TDs with one INT while adding in 13 rushing attempts for 83 yards (6.2 YPC) and two scores
– Played in ten games with four starts as a redshirt freshman in 2019, going 105-for-178 (59%) for 1,362 yards and six TDs with three INTs while adding in 57 carries for 135 yards (2.4 YPC) and a score on the ground
– Started out as the lead signal caller but missed time due to a rib injury, and later returned in more of a rotational role for the offense
– Took command of the starting job as a redshirt sophomore, completing 231 of 326 attempts (70.9%) for 3,337 yards and 29 TDs with 14 INTs while adding 112 rushing attempts for 506 yards (4.5 YPC) and four scores in ten games started.
– 2020 All-SEC Third Team, 2020 Davey O’Brien Award Semifinalist, 2020 Manning Award Finalist

Tape Breakdown

Matt Corral from Ole Miss is an interesting study as a prospect when weighing the talent and upside compared to the floor and risk. On one hand, he is a talented former four-star recruit coming out of heralded Long Beach Poly in California that was highly sought after by a majority of the top schools in the nation and decided to go to the Rebels, who have showcased his strengths as a passer. On the other hand, he is considered undersized for the position in terms of weight and stature and plays with a reckless abandonment with his body, having led to a rib injury in 2019 that sidelined him several games and leads to question whether he can hold up in the pros.

Corral is the quintessential gunslinger at QB, running around out of structure and trying to make something happen out of nothing when the play breaks down. While there are moments where these instances turn into highlight plays, he also can shoot himself in the foot at times, as well. Corral had 14 INTs in 2020 and those came in droves, including a five-INT game against LSU and a terrible six-INT game against Arkansas. In these two games, we see Carrol trying to make something happen that isn’t there, attempting to throw the ball into a risky location where he relies too much on his arm talent to make the more heads-up play. For example, on this play against the Razorbacks, Corral has his back wide open in the flat with room to run but chooses to try and drop it in to his receiver on the corner route, underthrowing the ball with the defender stepping in front to take the ball away.

 

Another example here against LSU where Corral is facing pressure in the pocket and tries to throw it to his running back in the flat while taking a hit, but delivers an inaccurate ball with #19 Jabril Cox right in front of the intended receiver, who easily catches the ball and takes it the other way inside the red zone. Just another example where Corral probably should’ve taken the sack, but tried to make a play.

 

Still, there are other plays in these games where Corral blatantly makes the wrong decision throwing into coverage without reading what is going on in front of him. On this turnover against Arkansas, Corral takes the snap and stays locked onto #8 Elijah Moore the entire time, throwing over the middle of the field with several defenders reading him in zone coverage as the LB steps in front of the pass and picks it off to take it the distance for six.

 

While Corral has some moments where you want to palm your face or look away, there are other moments where he makes your jaw hit the floor. When watching Corral throw the football, there is no denying that the man has a hose of an arm that can put the ball anywhere on the football field. Despite being smaller in stature, he has the ability to uncork it over 60 yards relatively easily. Take a look at this pass where Corral takes the snap from the shotgun and drops back, looking to unload deep to his receiver in one-on-one coverage on the right sideline, and steps up in the pocket to fire the ball from the 15-yard line to the opposite 20-yard line when he eventually connects with the receiver in-stride. The ball placement is perfect, right over the receiver’s shoulder as the defender tries to reach out to deflect the pass but is unsuccessful, resulting in the easy walk-in score.

 

Here is the All-22 view of the same play, seeing the deep bomb TD from the view behind the LOS.

 

When Corral has room to step up in the pocket, defenses better be scared if he has weapons that can win vertically. Here is another example of Corral’s deep ball talent against the Gators, where he steps up in the middle of the pocket and fires to his receiver running down the seam who has a step on the corner and safety in coverage, catching the ball in-stride for the 50-yard TD strike.

 

Even when he doesn’t have room to step up, he still has the torque and arm power to be lethal deep down the field. Here we see Corral drop back against Mississippi State at his own 45-yard line and scan the field. He notices his checkdown option in the flat, but sees his receiver has a step on the coverage down the field, deciding to let it fly 55 yards to his man, who catches the ball at the goal line in-stride over the shoulder with Corral not having to take a step to deliver the pass.

 

Corral has moments where he can throw with great touch on the ball, dropping it right into the bucket to his receiver while covered. Here against the Tigers, he fakes the handoff and throws it to his receiver, who gets a step on the corner on the right side of the field, putting it right over the shoulder to his guy with the corner and safety coming in to contest the pass for the touchdown.

 

Corral also epitomizes what it means to be a gunslinger at the QB position by being able to create when the play breaks down and make throws while outside of the pocket on the run. Here we see Corral get flushed out the left with pressure closing in, and manage to make the throw on the run to his receiver crossing the middle of the field, turning his shoulders and delivering a sidearm pass to his man for the completion.

 

Now I know I got on Corral for trying to do too much at times and put too much trust in his arm, but this play will show you why he tries to do so. Here against Alabama, we see Corral take the snap on the play action rollout pass to the right, but immediately is met with pressure from the edge rusher. He side-steps the defender and starts running to the right with multiple defenders on his tail, keeping his eyes downfield and ending up throwing the ball off his back foot (a big no-no in scouting QBs) but somehow puts the ball on his receiver running the scramble drill back to the ball along the sideline, managing to fit it in to his receiver in-bounds while avoiding the outstretched hands of the LB hoping to knock down the pass. A truly impressive play.

 

As you can see from the last couple of lips, Corral does possess the athleticism to work out of structure and extend plays. He also uses this same athleticism in the ground game as well, whether it be on a designed QB run or when asked to scramble from the pocket. How about another example from the same game where Ole Miss runs another PA rollout pass to the right and has the edge rusher come off free yet again in the face of Corral. He manages to evade him on the rollout, scanning the field for a receiver. But getting pressure from #32 Dylan Moses coming in, he decides to tuck and run, evading the diving tackle attempt and taking the ball up the sideline well over ten yards to move the sticks and keep the drive alive.

 

Or take this example against LSU where Corral fakes the handoff to the back then looks to throw deep, but immediately gets pressure from the right end, scrambling out to the left and looking to his back in the flat, but deciding to tuck and run with the ball, showing some wheels as he sneaks between two defenders in pursuit up the middle of the field and side-stepping another on his way towards the right sideline, eventually putting his shoulder into the DB to get the ball inside the ten-yard line. Obviously, you would like to see Corral slide here to avoid punishment, but I like to see the guy’s toughness and willingness to get the tough yardage as he takes on the defender as a runner.

 

So, what are we to think of Corral? We see the moments of greatness where he showcases the arm talent and playmaking ability that we have become accustomed to, seeing the likes of Patrick Mahomes and recent draftee Zach Wilson pull off out of structure, but we also have the low moments of trying to do too much and overall bad decision-making that are more associated with a guy like Johnny Manziel when he came into the league from Texas A&M. Personally, I compare Corral from a frame, play style, and arm talent perspective to Wilson of the Jets, being around the same size, having similar athletic traits, and the arm strength to make those wow throws you love to see in the highlights. He doesn’t have the running production of Manziel, but I see similarities to his game as well, being a risk-taker and often allowing the game to come to him, trying to force the issue instead of living to play another down.

There is no denying that Corral has the tools and talent to be considered a tantalizing prospect in this upcoming draft class, but the jury is still out on him as to whether he can keep building off of those wow moments and cut down on the bad decisions in 2021. Should he limit his turnover-worthy plays and prove to stay durable through a full season, I definitely could see Corral playing himself into Day 1 consideration like Wilson did in 2020. However, should the turnover bug continue to follow him into 2021, he will more likely be considered a wild card selection that some team will take the chance on because of his abilities, but may regret it should he not get the turnovers in check. This upcoming season will either make or break Corral’s draft stock, and I plan to be tuning in to every Ole Miss game I can to see whether this guy could become a potential long-term solution at QB for the Steelers in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Projection: Late Day 1, or Day 2

Games Watched: vs. Alabama (2020), at Arkansas (2020), vs. Florida (2020), at LSU (2020)

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