It’s 5 a.m. While others are hitting the snooze button, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral is preparing for his daily film session. The mental reps didn’t stop there. Later in the day, he would take notes from former offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s Flight School program. Corral and the other quarterbacks would learn about complex defense coverages.
Quarterback Draft Profile: Matt Corral
“…it made all the difference in the world because I knew where the ball was going to go 70% of the time before it was snapped,” said Corral.
Corral had already possessed freakish arm strength, mobility, and intangibles necessary to be a quarterback. Only one thing appeared to be missing from his arsenal, his football IQ. He was committed as ever to turning around a Rebels team who went 4-8 and 5-5 the last two years prior. They became legitimate contenders in 2021 as he led them to a Sugar Bowl appearance. He’s hoping to lead a similar charge for an NFL franchise. Here is why he can do just that.
No Stranger To Adversity
Matt Corral saw less and less playing time toward the end of the 2019 season as he was replaced by teammate John Rhys Plumlee. Coach Matt Luke was on the hot seat and desperately tried everything he could to get the most out of his roster. However, the lack of stability and trust led to a season that quickly spiraled out of control.
Corral could have thought about leaving such dysfunction and entering the transfer portal. Instead, he showed his loyalty and competitiveness. He was confident that under a new coaching staff led by Lane Kiffin, he could win the starting job.
After a successful offseason, Corral entered the year as the starter, and the offense exploded. Ole Miss was number three in total offense averaging 555.5 yards per game. Corral would be one of four to finish as the NCAA leader in total offense with a remarkable average of 384.9 yards per game.
Corral continued to improve exponentially in 2021 and put NFL scouts on high alert. He was a projected top-10 pick in the 2022 NFL draft leading up to the Sugar Bowl against Baylor. However, an ankle injury carted him off the field in the first quarter putting his draft stock in jeopardy. Fortunately, it was just a sprain, but it kept him from participating in the NFL combine. He will be ready to go for the Pro Day on March 24th where he attempts yet another Cinderella story.
A popular player comp for Matt Corral is New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson. They both have the same height, similar weight, a rocket arm, and a ton of potential. Wilson was unknown up until 2020 when he cut his interceptions from nine to three and tripled the number of touchdowns from 11 to 33 at BYU. Corral also struggled mightily before throwing 49 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in his final two years.
Not only do they have each other’s strengths, but they also share similar weaknesses. Most notably, their decision-making abilities can be questionable. Against Arkansas in 2020, Corral threw six interceptions. His first was on a deep ball that flared out into double coverage. The other five were because of poor anticipation where he expected his receiver to get past tight coverage. He’d learn from those mistakes and only throw five interceptions for the entire 2021 campaign.
Wilson also struggled to begin his NFL career including a four-interception game against the New England Patriots. However, Wilson didn’t throw another interception for the final five weeks of the season. Simply put, Corral’s weaknesses are not detrimental. With the right coaching staff, he can continue to eliminate some of the head-scratching mistakes and continue to learn about defenses post-snap as he did toward the end of 2021.
Matt Corral will benefit significantly from a great support system. The Indianapolis Colts would be the best fit if they truly move on from Carson Wentz. Corral would be paired alongside MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor and high school teammate Michael Pittman Jr.
“Mike’s a heck of a player. Double-covered in high school, it would be his ball…” Corral said when asked about Pittman. It’s not insane to say that the duo could also find success in the pros like Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase.
However, such a desperate move to ditch Wentz would show that Frank Reich and Chris Ballard are in win-now mode and not ready to take in a rookie.
A more realistic option for Corral would be the Washington Commanders. They ranked sixth in PFF’s final 2021 NFL offensive line rankings and have receiver Terry McLaurin coming off of his second 1,000 yard season. If Washington can find another outside receiver while re-signing offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, this can become a very quarterback-friendly roster. It would be beneficial to bring in a veteran quarterback who can further Corral’s growth and not rush him into the starting lineup. Stability and support can make Corral a truly dangerous quarterback in the years to come.