From now until the 2022 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling a quarterback prospect that combines arm talent and mobility into an intriguing option the Pittsburgh Steelers will likely be taking a long look at this spring prior to the 2022 NFL Draft.
#2 Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (R-Jr.) – 6015, 212 lbs.
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Has good speed and athleticism for the position
— Can be a threat running the football as a scrambler or when the defense doesn’t account for him
—Used often on designed QB draws and RPOs, running with subtle elusiveness and more power than his size would suggest
— 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 as 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
—Did a great job cutting down on his turnover-worthy plays in 2021 by making better decisions
— 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
— Played in an RPO-heavy system with a lot of quick hitters, causing him to often lock onto his primary target instead of scanning the field
— Lives life on the edge as a gunslinger and will get shot 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 check down option or take the sack
— Accuracy tends to wane when on the move out of the pocket
— Suffered an ankle sprain in the Sugar Bowl, taking him out of the game
— Redshirt Junior prospect from Ventura, CA
— U.S. Army All-America selection and former four-star recruit being 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 1362 yards and six TDs with 3 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 3337 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
— Played and started in 13 games as a redshirt junior, completing 262-of-386 passes (67.9%) for 3,349 yards and 20 TDs with five INTs while adding 152 carries for 614 yards and 11 scores on the ground
— 2021 Conerly Trophy Winner, 2021 Maxwell, Walter Camp, and Davey O’Brien Award Semifinalist, 2020 All-SEC Third Team, 2020 Davey O’Brien Award Semifinalist, 2020 Manning Award Finalist
Matt Corral from Ole Miss is an interesting study as a prospect when weighing the talent and upside compared to the 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 most 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, playing with a reckless abandonment with his body resulting in a rib injury in 2019 that sidelined him several games as well as an ankle sprain in his final game, creating questions 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 these interceptions over 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.
Corral had far too many turnover-worthy plays last season, and that was my greatest criticism of him heading into 2021. Corral showed impressive growth in this area this past season, cutting his INT total from 14 last year to five total on the season. Corral has a better understanding to live to play another down like we see on this play where Ole Miss is in the red zone against Alabama, but Corral is immediately met with pressure. Instead of forcing the ball into coverage, Corral throws the ball out of bounds, managing to avoid getting the intentional grounding penalty and live another play.
Still, the instances where Corral did turn the ball over in 2021 were eerily like that of 2020, forcing passes into places they have no business going. Here a perfect example against Tennessee at the end of the game where Ole Miss has the lead and just must keep possession of the ball and run out the clock. Corral gets flushed from the pocket and rolls to his right, evading one tackle and sets his feet to throw, failing to see the defender jumping the passing lane as he makes the diving INT. Corral’s intentions may have been good, but he must recognize that he just needs to live to play another down.
Another concerning part of Corral’s game pertains to the simplified offensive system he played in at Ole Miss where he benefitted from a ton of quick hitters and schemed up open options in the passing game rather than being required to read the defense and work through his progressions. While he still made some impressive throws into coverage (more coming later) there are instances on tape where his ball placement wanes when on the move or when pressure is in his face. Watch these two plays from the Tennessee game where Corral misses badly on wide-open options due to poor execution in the basics.
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 can uncork it over 60 yards relatively easily.
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 Razorbacks 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, making the diving catch on a ball that travels 60+ yards through the air.
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 check down 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 good ball placement, dropping it right into the bucket to his receiver while covered or putting it in a location where his intended target is the only one who can make a play on the football. Here against the Crimson Tide, we see the latter where Corral takes the snap and throws to the back shoulder of the receiver who comes back and manages to snag the ball with one arm along the sideline for the impressive catch to move the ball to a third-and-one situation. Clearly, the receiver makes a great play, but a good job by Corral as well to place the ball in a spot where only his receiver can go get it.
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 makes throws while outside of the pocket on-the-run. Watch this play as Corral fakes the give and steps up in the pocket to avoid #31 Will Anderson coming off the edge around the LG while also steeping out of the tackle attempt by the DT, keeping his eyes down field as a passer the entire time to locate his receiver breaking open and puts it on the money for the first down.
Now I know I got on Corral for trying to do too much at times and put too much trust in his arm, but there are instances on tape where you understand why he tries to do so. Watch this pass attempt where Corral has pressure coming right up in his face, but evades the defender, sets his feet, and delivers a bomb down the field to his receiver in single coverage into the breadbasket. The defender plays the pass well and the pass is incomplete, but I can argue that the receiver should bring this ball in on a brilliant pass attempt by Corral who throws this ball 55 yards in the air with a defender in his face.
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. Watch this play where Corral works to his right as a passer in the red zone against Arkansas, trying to locate an open receiver, but the coverage forces Corral to turn into a runner, angling his way to the right pylon and runs into contact, getting into the end zone for six.
Or take this example in the same game where Corral keeping the RPO as a runner, immediately shaking out of a tackle attempt by the linebacker as he gets up field and puts his shoulder down to take on the contact by the safety, staying on his feet and makes his way up the sideline before being escorted out of bounds after a successful explosive run.
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 or makes bad decisions 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 execution perspective to Manziel. Corral and Manziel are nearly the same size, having similar athletic traits, and played in a similar offensive system in college, allowing them to make plays down the field as a passer as well as with their legs.
I do see Corral having more arm strength than Manziel coming out of college, hence the rough comparison to Zach Wilson coming out of BYU, although Wilson makes more off-platform throws and Corral was utilized the running component of his game. Corral made big strides in 2021 in terms of taking care of the football and exciting the offense, but his lack of size and recklessness as a risk taker still were there on film, bringing to question his ability to hold up at the NFL level behind a poor offensive line or when he must dissect NFL defenses from a pro-style offense. Manziel crashed and burned in his transition, and while Corral is a better player as a passer, the injury concerns do remain.
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 develop into a franchise quarterback. He and Sam Howell from North Carolina are both considered “undersized” but Howell has 20lb on Corral whose frail frame may not hold up through a full NFL season. He has shown to be an effective runner but having dealt with injuries in two of his three seasons of play, he will have to play smarter in the league to stay healthy.
Corral would best be served going to a spread/West Coast offense that utilizes RPOs and quick hitters where he can make quick reads and get the ball out quickly while still having the ability to attack defenses down the field. Offensive systems like San Francisco and New Orleans can maximize his strengths as a passer with their respective schemes. Matt Canada’s offense in Pittsburgh could also be a logical fit given the pre-snap motions and RPOs they want to run, but the lack of projection could be an issue for a player of Corral’s stature. All said, Corral has the arm talent, mobility, and football character as a leader to make him a potential long-term solution at QB and a likely high draft selection.
Projection: Mid-Day One-to- Early Day Two
Depot Draft Grade: 8.4 – Future Quality Starter (2nd Round)
Games Watched: vs Alabama (2020), at Arkansas (2020), vs Florida (2020), at LSU (2020), at Tennessee (2021), at Alabama (2021), vs Arkansas (2021)