One of the most common questions in the NFL Draft is which quarterback has the chance to be the next Joe Burrow? Essentially, it means which one is going to come out of nowhere, have a great season, and have the chance to become one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL Draft.
Joe Burrow did that for LSU two years ago, and Zach Wilson did it last year for BYU.
This summer, much of the attention for quarterbacks has been turned to Sam Howell and Spencer Rattler. Rightfully so, they’ve got plenty of strengths to their game to be in that conversation. But who is that one quarterback that could be like a Joe Burrow or Zach Wilson and come out of left field to surprise most people. For me, it would be on Matt Corral from Ole Miss.
Prior to committing to Ole Miss, Corral was a highly touted recruit out of Long Beach Poly High School as a 4-star ranked prospect. Prior to Long Beach, he was playing football at Oaks Christian High School. Regardless of where he was playing in high school, the scouts were there to watch him play.
At first, he had committed to USC but then flipped his commitment to Florida a month later. All signs were pointing to him playing for the Gators, but late in the process, he took a visit to Ole Miss and ended up flipping his commitment again. This time it was to the Rebels, and this time it was for good.
Three years later, Corral has engraved his name at the top of the depth chart for the Rebels. Coming off a career year with 3,337 passing yards, 29 passing touchdowns, and 14 interceptions, Corral is looking to replicate his performance from last season. Let’s jump into some film and see why he’s got the chance to become one of the top quarterbacks for the 2022 NFL Draft!
Stepping up in the pocket
Whenever watching quarterbacks, I’m always so intrigued to see how they respond to pressure. Do they panic and crumble or do they move out of the pocket, create an opportunity or step up and deliver a strike. For Matt Corral, it comes naturally to respond in a positive way. In October of 2020, Corral was the highest-graded quarterback under pressure at 90.3 (per Pro Football Focus). As you’ll see, he responds well to most of the pressure he’s faced with.
Coming out in a pistol formation, Corral shows play-action right away. While he runs through his fake, he’s got his receivers to his right running crossing patterns to the middle of the field. Feeling the pressure behind him and the pocket collapsing to his right, Corral does a good job stepping up and makes the right throw to an open wide receiver (Elijah Moore).
Rather than having to worry about the pocket collapsing, Corral has a relatively clean pocket on the play above. There was some penetration in the B-gap, but the guard and running back did a good job of picking up the nose tackle. As for Corral, he lets the routes develop downfield, and as he begins to step up into the pocket, there’s an open window to find the deep crosser towards the sideline. Despite it being 2nd and 20, this connection gave the Rebels the first down.
Winning with the eyes and hips
Some quarterbacks win with their eyes, some with their body positioning one way and having the ability to throw the ball another way. For Matt Corral, he has shown the ability to win with his eyes but also sells fakes or misdirect defenses with his hips and shoulders. Let’s look at the play below as an example:
There’s a lot of different factors to this play. From the start, this play looks like a designed screen to the wide receiver that orbit motions to the wide side of the field. However, Corral fakes a hand-off to the running back, and that forces the linebackers to bite on that. In that process, the tight end (Kenny Yeboah) releases up the seam and is wide open to catch the ball and gain plenty of yards after the catch.
In the process of the throw, watch how Corral has his hips angled to the wide receiver screen, but then he flips and throws up the seam. The fake in the backfield, his hips, and his eyes help allow the tight end to be open. All he has to do is throw a good ball, and it should lead to a completion.
Extending plays beyond the pocket
It’s become one of the most commonly discussed assets for a quarterback. What can they do beyond the pocket? Some quarterbacks are built to stand in the pocket and fall apart once they step outside of the tackle box. Others can thrive the moment they can get their feet moving and throw on the run. Matt Corral can do a little bit of both, and I think it’s what helps make him so intriguing as a prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Watching the play above, Corral rolls to his right, sets his feet, and looks like he wants to throw downfield. As passing windows close, and there’s nothing open, he starts to run and extend towards the sideline. While doing so, he has a wide receiver open up near the sideline, and that’s exactly where he decides to throw the ball. Trusting his arm and mobility, Corral extends the play and puts the pass right where it needs to be to keep the drive alive. This is a consistent trend in watching his tape.
Like I said in the introduction, Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell will gain plenty of attention for the top quarterbacks of the 2022 NFL Draft. That’s fair. But don’t sleep on Matt Corral out of Ole Miss. His skill-set is intriguing, and it should transition to the NFL.
Much like the questions we have for Sam Howell, we will have the same questions for Matt Corral. What can he do without some of his top weapons being at his disposal? Fortunately, as I said, he’s got the right skill-set to get the job done. From his arm strength and ability to push the ball down the field to his mobility to open an offense up from RPO’s or extending plays to allow a receiver to get open down the field.
If there’s any quarterback that can rise up draft boards and turn plenty of heads this season, it will be the talented quarterback from Ole Miss.