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Steelers 2022 NFL Draft Quarterback Preview: Ole Miss QB Matt Corral

We continue to look at quarterback prospects who will be eligible in the 2022 NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Mississippi vs Indiana Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Any time the word “Coral” has been mentioned since last summer, it has generally carried a negative connotation around here. Well, let’s see if that can be changed a little by introducing you to the immensely talented Matt Corral, who many are projecting to be a first round pick next April.

Matt Corral, who was considered one of the top ten players coming out of California in the class of 2018, was redshirted his freshman season after only participating in four games. His second career game is when people began taking notice. Albeit against Louisiana Monroe, Corral went 10 for 10, throwing for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns. Corral did not become the full-time starter in 2019, but he started four games, participated in ten, and led the team in passing yards. In 2020, Corral won the starting quarterback competition and made a big impression in week one of the season. Against Florida, who was ranked inside the top 5, he recorded 395 passing yards and 3 touchdowns while recording 50 more yards on the ground. He finished the season with 506 rushing yards, a 70.9% completion percentage, over 3,337 passing yards, 10.2 yards per attempt, 29 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions.

Corral possesses a strong arm, but what makes him stand out among his peers is his touch on deep balls. He has the ability to put high velocity on his throws, but he displays good situational awareness and knows when to take some velocity off a throw. When targeting a receiver downfield, Corral understands when it is the right time to deliver an arcing spiral rather than a line drive, as evidenced by this pass against Florida.

Corral also does a good job delivering accurate balls under pressure. His willingness to take a hit inside the pocket is something that should most certainly appeal to NFL teams. However, his excellent mobility keeps him from getting hit too often, as he can outrun many linebackers and safeties.

It is not difficult to see Corral’s talent as both a passer and a runner, but there are still a lot of technical issues that need to be ironed out in his game. We talked about his ability to put excellent touch on passes downfield, but there are several instances on tape where Corral will have the touch but not the accuracy. His timing with the Ole Miss receivers seemed to be off for a good chunk of the 2020 season, throwing passes behind his receivers and giving trailing defenders opportunities to pick them off.

Another issue I have with Corral is his predictability, as he eyes his receivers down too long before delivering the ball. He also panics when his primary target is not open. This seems to be a recurring theme with the 2022 quarterback class. The final issue is inconsistency. Corral had impressive performances against Alabama and Florida, passing for over 750 yards, 5 touchdowns, and only 1 interception in those 2 games combined. On the flip side of that, he recorded a 52.6 completion percentage, only 200 passing yards, and 6 interceptions against Arkansas. If Corral is going to make it at the next level, he must become more consistent.

We are going to look at both the Arkansas and Alabama matchups, and you will truly see both the best and worst of Matt Corral. We will begin with the positive side of things against Alabama. Before we begin, I would like to thank SNW’s son, Jacob Bost, for creating these film clips. He will be helping with these throughout the summer.

In this clip, Corral shows his escapability and a flash of pinpoint accuracy under pressure. Ole Miss lines up in the pistol formation.

It looks as if it is planned to be a play action rollout out of the pistol, but Alabama linebacker Christopher Allen is unblocked. After Wright sees that it is play action, he comes after Corral for the sack, but he is unable to wrap him up, as Corral steps up and avoids the pressure. Facing more pressure from Will Anderson, Jr. and Byron Young, Corral runs to the right and delivers a beautiful strike to Dontario Drummond for the first down.

We see another rollout here. Ole Miss is in the pistol once again.

Corral keeps his eyes downfield, sees nothing open, and wisely chooses to take off and run with it. He avoids a shoestring tackle on two separate occasions in the backfield and picks up a solid 14 yards on the ground.

On this play, we see Corral’s arm strength on full display. Ole Miss is in the shotgun formation.

He is not under any pressure in pocket and does not have to make a challenging throw, but he keeps his eyes downfield and sees Elijah Moore running open downfield. He releases the ball quickly and hits Moore on a pass that travels nearly 50 yards in the air. Corral’s release time is among the best in the 2022 quarterback class. If he wants to become a high draft pick next April, he needs to pair that with greater quickness when reading through his progressions. That will help him cut back on the interceptions.

Speaking of interceptions, it is time to get to the ugly part. Against Arkansas, Corral threw six interceptions and could have thrown eight or nine if the defenders would have caught all the balls thrown to them.

A lot of these interceptions are simply because of poor decision making. The first one we are going to look at is a prime example. Corral is under center in a singleback formation.

It is play action, and Arkansas only sends a three man rush, but their defensive tackle is able to get pressure from the interior. Corral forces the ball to Elijah Moore, who finds a small hole in Arkansas’ zone coverage, but there is safety help over the top and a corner underneath. The ball is underthrown, and Hudson Clark comes away with the interception.

Here is another one. Corral is in the pistol.

Corral rolls out to the right, and his first read is the tight end coming across the formation. Arkansas takes that away, which gives him only two other options on the side of the field he is rolling out to. He immediately turns to his receiver Jonathan Mingo. Safety Jalen Catalon reads this one perfectly and jumps on the route as soon as Corral looks that way. Another poor decision by Corral results in another interception.

Here is the next one. Corral is in the pistol once again.

A major issue in Corral’s game is his inability to read, or even notice, the underneath defender. This was an issue Patrick Mahomes had in college, but a redshirt rookie season in the NFL allowed him to fix the issue. On this RPO, Corral’s first read is Mingo once again. He thinks Mingo will get enough separation late to gun it to him near the one yard line. However, he does not read nickel cornerback Greg Brooks, Jr. dropping into coverage underneath. Corral delivers a line drive that goes right to Brooks. Brooks reads the quarterback’s eyes the entire way and comes away with the easy interception.

Let’s move to the next one. Corral is in the shotgun flanked by runningback Snoop Conner.

These constant one-read passes are going to make it difficult for Corral to adjust to the NFL. Cornerback Hudson Clark has his eyes on the quarterback from the snap and knows where Corral is going. Before the snap, Corral had already decided where he was going to throw the ball, as he did not even take time to scan the rest of the field. It is another RPO, and as soon as he pulls the ball away from the running back, he guns it in the direction of Dontario Drummond. As soon as Corral looks toward his direction, Clark breaks on the ball and gets in front of the receiver for the pick.

Here is the final one we will look at. Corral is in the shotgun.

When a quarterback eyes his receiver down too long, bad things happen. This time, Corral keeps his eyes in the same direction for the entire play. Arkansas only sends a three man rush, which gives Corral all the time he needs in the pocket. Corral throws it toward the sideline near Jonathan Mingo, but redshirt freshman Hudson Clark reads the quarterback’s eyes all the way, jumps on the ball at the perfect time, and comes away with his third interception of the game.

There is a lot of upside with Corral, but he has a lot of developing to do as a passer. Whoever drafts him cannot expect him to start in year one. Even if he shows good development this season, he will still need at least a year to sit on the bench and learn once he gets to the NFL.

If highlights are more your thing, here are Corral’s best plays from the 2020 season.

NFL Comparison: Colin Kaepernick

Kaepernick had a decent arm and excellent escapability in his prime, but his inconsistency as a passer kept him from ever reaching the next level in his game. He got too comfortable staying on his first read and did not get through his progressions quickly, and when he was under pressure and could not escape, he would throw balls into traffic that would often lead to interceptions. Corral has the same issues, and he lacks the size that Kaepernick had. His arm is better than Kaepernick’s, but he makes the same poor decisions when under pressure. As seen in the clips above, he locks onto his primary receiver too often and makes it easy for defenders to read where he wants to go with the football. Corral may be able to become a starter in the right system, but it is difficult to see him having success in the NFL until he becomes more consistent.

How would he fit with the Steelers?

I do not believe the Steelers will care too much about the size of their next quarterback. After all, their job is to find the best quarterback, regardless of size. However, Corral’s 6’1” frame is a bit smaller than what the Steelers typically prefer. In terms of his schematic fit, I think Matt Canada could get more out of him than a lot of other coordinators, but I do not think it would be wise for any team to take him in the first round at this point. It is somewhat baffling that his name is being mentioned among the top quarterbacks of the 2022 class considering the major flaws in his game. He is a player to keep an eye on this fall, but as of now, I would be extremely disappointed if the Steelers took him.

But what do you think? Are you more optimistic on Corral than I am? Do you see him as a potential fit for the Steelers? Be sure to light up the Coral comment section with your thoughts on Corral and all things black and gold!