2022 NFL Draft: Matt Corral could be a first-round candidate with strong season

Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2). Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2). Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

Matt Corral is a player who finally started to draw some buzz last season. Here’s why he could emerge as a fringe first-round candidate in the 2022 NFL Draft. 

When thinking about some of the best up-and-coming quarterbacks in college football, Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell are usually the first few names rattled off. However, I’m willing to bet that for most, Matt Corral isn’t a name that comes to mind.

Since Eli Manning, no Ole Miss quarterback has ever gone on to be an incredible NFL Draft prospect. While I’m not claiming that Corral will be that either, he does offer some interesting traits.

Listed at 6’1” and 205 pounds, Corral is a bit undersized. Fortunately, it rarely matters for today’s game – both for college and the NFL – as we continue to see smaller quarterbacks get drafted high.

In 2018, Baker Mayfield was the 1st overall pick in the draft at just a shade over 6’0” and 215 pounds. Just one year later, Kyler Murray became one of the smallest players ever taken with the first overall pick at 5’10” and 207 pounds.

Matt Corral has a long way to go to even start to sniff the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Why Corral could go in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft

Matt Corral redshirted as a freshman. In his second season with Ole Miss, he was quite underwhelming – completing just 59.0 percent of his passes for a mediocre 7.7 yards per attempt, according to Sports Reference. In addition, the young quarterback earned just 6 touchdown passes on 178 attempts.

Last season, however, Corral took a massive (and somewhat unexpected) leap forward. The athletic quarterback completed nearly 71 percent of his passes and his yards per attempt skyrocketed up to 10.2. In addition, Corral turned heads with 29 touchdown passes while chipping in 506 yards and 4 scores on the ground.

Corral was aided by the spectacular play of Elijah Moore in 2020. More was clearly his go-to option as he compiled 86 catches for 1,193 yards and 8 touchdowns.

In order to elevate his name into the first-round conversation, Matt Corral not only needs to take a step forward as a passer, but he will need to do so without the help of his best wide receiver from a year ago. Still, Corral has some traits that could intrigue NFL teams.

Despite his below-average size, Corral actually has a pretty big arm, and it will be good enough to check the box for some teams. He’s also a very solid athlete with the ability to scramble around the pocket and extend the play. This is obviously a coveted trait in today’s NFL.

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Matt Corral still has a long way to go if he wants to compete with some of the names at the top of this quarterback class, but after taking a massive leap forward in 2020, he could build on his resume with a solid redshirt junior season in 2021. Keep an eye on him as a potential rising prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft.