In a quarterback class that has some solid options, we are still waiting for one to break away from the pack. Mississippi’s Junior quarterback Matt Corral has a lot of fans, but also plenty of detractors. Corral, who at one point in the 2021 season was a Heisman favorite, battled through some injuries to lead the program to one of the best seasons in school history. It’s not out of the question for Corral to be the first quarterback taken, but it’s also not crazy for him to be the fifth or sixth one off the board either. He has some impressive and advanced traits that make him appealing, but he has the off-script abilities that we are seeing so often now. Some of the games best young quarterbacks (Mahomes, Murray, Allen) are talented and can make throws when using their mobility. When drafting Corral, a team hopes they’ll get a player in that mold.
You’ll never confuse Corral for an Olympic sprinter, but a huge part of his game is using his legs to either extend plays or gain yards. He was effective in making zone reads, particularly in the red zone, gaining small chunks of yards while being smart in not taking too many big hits. As a passer, I would like to see him roll out more because he displayed good accuracy and touch when rolling out of the pocket. He’s going to be able to evade pressure by not being afraid to run, but he still does a good job of keeping his eyes down the field. Corral was a touchdown machine on the ground, totaling eleven rushing scores in 2021. Despite not being big or all that fast, he’s still able to make plays happen.
Despite not being the biggest guy, Corral is unaffected by pressure. He’s very confident in his skills and will make any throw. If a receiver is not open, he will sit in the pocket and welcome pressure to buy himself that extra half-second. You’ll see this quality in players who’ve had a good amount of snaps. As a three-year starter, Corral checks that box but even surpasses expectations when you see him play. In many ways, he needs to mature as a player, but from a mental toughness perspective, he is there.
In Lane Kiffin’s offense, there’s a lot of short, high-percentage throws. Because of this, the quarterback might see an inflated completion percentage. However, with Corral, he showed great accuracy down the field in the last two years. He has no problem with throwing into tight windows and will kill defenses on throws 8-12 yards down the field. He could clean up some mechanical issues, but for a college quarterback he is advanced in this area.
Corral will never “wow” anybody with his arm strength or ability to push the ball down the field. On occasion, he will put good touch on the ball and allow his receiver to run under it, but more often than not, he isn’t much of a threat to test the defense deep. Corral has a lot of Zach Wilson in his game, but what set Wilson apart was his ability to make big plays with his arm. At 6’0″ and 210 pounds, he isn’t the biggest guy and doesn’t generate much power on the ball. Ultimately, he’s never going to be a passer who has the big, flashy arm.
While he was a much-improved decision-maker in 2021, you can’t ignore Corral’s past issues with ball security. In 2020, he had 14 interceptions which were the second-most in the NCAA. He improved quite a bit in 2021, cutting that number to just 5. Still, there were too many times where Corral forced a pass into double coverage and was all too reckless. As we saw this year, rookie quarterbacks will be much riskier with the ball and ultimately throw interceptions. Corral will take his bumps and bruises early on, but he can’t let this become a long-term issue.
I’ve seen Corral mocked anywhere from the top five to the second round. While he’s not my favorite quarterback in this class, I’m inclined to believe he’s likely going to be a top twenty selection as quarterbacks always go earlier than we expect. That being said, I don’t think he’s going to be ready to step in as a rookie and start. I did say he needs playing time to correct some issues, but you also don’t want him to go out there and destroy his confidence. A perfect scenario for him would be to sit behind a veteran for a year (think Atlanta or Denver) and use training camp and the preseason as a chance to test how far along he actually is. Of course, he may not get that luxury if he’s drafted to a crappy team, but he can succeed if surrounded by play-calling that will make things simple for him early on.