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2022 NFL Draft preseason QB rankings...
10. Phil Jurkovec | Boston College | 6’5/226
9. Desmond Ridder | Cincinnati | 6’4/215
8. JT Daniels | Georgia | 6’3/210
7. Tyler Shough | Texas Tech | 6’5/221
6. Kedon Slovis | USC | 6’3/216
1-4. (Coming soon)
Just missed the cut…
Michael Penix Jr. | Indiana | 6’3/218
Jayden Daniels | Arizona State | 6’3/185
Brock Purdy | Iowa State | 6’1/212
D’Eriq King | Miami | 5’11/185
Dillon Gabriel | UCF | 6’0/186
Grayson McCall | Coastal Carolina | 6’3/200
Emory Jones | Florida | 6’2/210
Do not see as priority NFL prospects...
Tanner Morgan | Minnesota | 6’2/215
Sean Clifford | Penn State | 6’2/220
Bo Nix | Auburn | 6’3/214
5. Matt Corral | Ole Miss | 6’1/205
Corral may be the most polarizing 2022 draft-eligible quarterback prospect. ESPN’s Mel Kiper didn’t even list Corral as a top-10 QB when he dropped his initial 2022 position rankings on May 20.
Corral signed with Ole Miss as the No. 6 overall quarterback in the 2018 class to play in Phil Longo’s offense. He attempted 22 passes in mop-up duty while taking a redshirt behind Jordan Ta’amu. Longo left to become Mack Brown's OC at UNC and mentor Sam Howell (who you'll read about later in this series).
Ole Miss HC Matt Luke, on the hot seat after a 5-7 season, hired Rich Rodriguez as OC prior to the 2019 season. That brought about a seismic offensive shift Corral hadn’t signed up for. Nevertheless, Corral stayed. Corral was athletic enough for RichRod’s system, but he wasn’t as athletic as John Rhys Plumlee (who is now catching passes for Corral as a receiver).
Corral threw for a mere 1,362 passing yards with a 6/3 TD/INT rate that year as the 1B to Plumlee’s 1A. The former top prospect looked lost. Fortuna finally smiled upon Corral after that season. The Rebels fired Luke and his staff. Lane Kiffin rode in to replace Luke, ditching RichRod’s run-heavy spread-option offense with an uber-aggressive, RPO-heavy, up-tempo scheme run out of Pistol and shotgun.
An attack similar to Longo's -- only more aggressive, run at higher tempo. Corral broke out as a star, throwing for 3,337 yards and 29 TD on 70.9% completions and 10.2 YPA. Per ESPN’s Bill Connelly, 81.3% of Corral's balls were catchable. Corral is on the smaller side, but he’s got a whip of a right arm. Top-3 arm-strength among my preseason top-10 QB (along with Carson Strong and Malik Willis).
Corral’s 11 completions of 50-plus yards led the SEC. He ranked No. 6 in the P5 with 10.1 adjusted YPA, and PFF charted Corral top-5 nationally in percentage of on-target throws 10-plus yards downfield. What I appreciate about him is he isn’t one of those hammers that only sees nails. When velocity or moon balls are called for, that’s what he throws. When the situation calls for a changeup or for him to take a little off, that’s what he does.
Not only that, but Corral throws from multiple arm angles. Really good off-platform thrower. Can get side-arm passes out quickly to slip balls around defenders. Good touch and placement with velocity up the seam. Tough kid, will hang in there for a throw and take a shot if necessary. Crisp and convincing in the play-action game, moves well on bootlegs, can spin it on the run.
Corral’s a clever player that creates extra spacing with his eyes and body. He has a knack for flipping to his target and getting the ball out in one fluid motion, which sends it on its way before the defense can react. This style puts a ton of stress on corners, often on islands against the Ole Miss offense.
Corral also creates tension with his legs as a scrambler. Last season, he rushed for 605 yards and four TD on 6.4 YPC with sacks omitted. PFF only charted four quarterbacks with throwing and running grades of 76.0 or better. Corral was one, Justin Fields and Mac Jones were two others.
Because Corral is so adept at maneuvering in tight spaces, he can find himself in advantageous scrambling lanes when his receiving options have expired. He isn’t a threat to take it to the house, but he’ll nick you with paper cuts as often as you give him the chance.
In the pocket, he’s extremely active. He’s got a little Johnny Football to him in this area. In fact, that's Tim Tebow's comp for Corral. Both had a good feel for the pass rush while keeping their eyes downfield. Both naturally shuffled, slid, and contorted to evade pressure and find better vantage points to attack. Each could sometimes seem a little hyper-active in the pocket.
When either found a throw they liked, they were chucking -- sometimes when those very-active feet were not set. Corral’s touch extends to all levels, but his accuracy tends to wane when he gets hurried or sloppy with his lower-half. I saw balls sail on him, I also saw balls die 10 yards early on him. This is where Corral’s gunslinging come back to bite him. He’s always testing the defense. When his mechanics start to go, he amps up the aggression instead of calming his game and his feet.
The good news is that Corral consistently flashes above-average accuracy when set. He finished behind only Carson Strong and Kedon Slovis in my preseason top-10 in adjusted accuracy last year. Howell, Spencer Rattler and Dillon Gabriel are the only three 2022 draft-eligible QB in my preseason top-20 that had more big-time throws than the 24 PFF charted Corral with.
Of Corral’s 14 interceptions last year, 13 came in three games: against Arkansas, LSU and Auburn (93% of his interceptions came in 30% of his games!). Six of them came against Arkansas. Hogs DC Barry Odom ambushed Corral by dropping eight into coverage throughout the game. Saturday Down South opined of Corral that day: “...he looked like how I’d look trying to figure out quantum physics. His reads were virtually non-existent, and Arkansas looked like it had 20 players on the field.”
Corral's five interception-game against LSU requires some context: It occurred in a downpour. It is fair to say that Corral forced or telegraphed four passes and was picked clean on each. The fifth was a glorified punt, a third-and-long toss-it-up prayer. Less spoken about is the fact that Corral led four-straight TD drives late in that game to nearly rally Ole Miss to a comeback victory on the soggy field.
In Corral's other seven games, he posted an incredible 23/1 TD/INT ratio. That included lighting Alabama up for 365 yards and two TD. Ole Miss spent most of the afternoon going score-for-score with ‘Bama. Corral and Elijah Moore were the reason why.
Kiffin’s system cut down Corral's reads, like Steve Sarkisian’s did for Mac Jones (like most college systems do). Mac was a system maestro. Corral isn’t yet, though he looks like one as long as the defense more or less does post-snap what he thought it was going to do. Corral is often able to go to his first read, decided before the snap.
Many times last year, that was Elijah Moore. Corral does well in these instances to hold safeties with his eyes to ensure he gets the one-on-one shot he’s hunting for downfield. The difference between Mac and Corral is Corral can glitch when the post-snap read doesn’t conform to his expectations.
Corral could get frantic if Moore didn’t pop open. He had a tendency to audible to secondary-reads late, panicky, knowing his time was running short. In these situations, he pays even less mind to his mechanics, and he’s too-willing to make YOLO snap-decisions with the ball.
If I’m Corral, this is my biggest area of developmental emphasis when considering the NFL. If I declare for the draft after the 2021 season, coming out of a half-field, one-read offense, I cannot afford to botch that read. Can’t miss safeties sitting in zone. Can’t miss defenders lurking underneath. Can’t panic working down the progression line. Because then, no matter my talent, the NFL will ask, What happens when his reads quadruple?
This year, we want to see Corral distribute the ball around more, mind his lower-half a bit more and eliminate the stinker games. Ole Miss returns eight starters from an offense that averaged 39.2 points and 555.5 yards per game. Expected improvement from a Rebels defense that returns 10 starters will hopefully ease pressure. Corral had to go bullet-for-bullet with opponents last fall.
Corral dropped 342 yards and two TD on Indiana’s top-35 SP+ defense in the bowl game without Moore, TE Kenny Yeboah, Braylon Sanders or Jerrion Ealy. That was an extremely promising development. Moore (86 catches) and Yeboah (27) combined for 47.5% of Ole Miss’ catches and more than half its receiving yards and TD.
Corral has a top-3 arm in the class, and he's a strong athlete to boot. He looked like a potential Round 1 pick for seven games last year and a guy who’d struggle to get a UDFA contract in the other three. With perhaps the largest band of draft outcomes of any quarterback in my preseason top-10 rankings, Corral is a quarterback prospect to monitor especially closely this fall.
He's not a fit for a traditional NFL offense. But for a spread team that likes to attack downfield in the passing game and thinks it can improve his consistency and calm him down a little, there’s absolutely an NFL starter toolkit to work with here.