With the college season getting into full gear, rankings about the 2022 NFL Draft are rapidly changing. It couldn’t be more apparent than at the Quarterback position. Entering the season, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and North Carolina’s Sam Howell were thought to be competing for the top spot and a chance to go #1 overall. After early struggles this season by both, a new name emerged in Mississippi’s Matt Corral.
Corral had a coming-out party in 2020 when Mississippi hosted future National Champions: The Alabama Crimson Tide. The two offenses traded body blows and Corral ended up throwing some fantastic passes to score a ton on a stout Alabama defense. 21/28 for 365 yards, 2 TDs, and no interceptions was huge and showcased his ability. Unfortunately, Corral followed up that performance with 6 interceptions against Arkansas and, later that season, a 5 interception performance against LSU. Showcasing some bad decision making and wild throws, Corral came into 2021 with a lot of uncertainty in his draft prospects.
Fortunately, Corral has absolutely lit it up in 2021 so far and has massively improved his decision making and ability to read the defense. In an RPO offense, there has been a tightening of Corral reading the defense presnap and snapping through progressions to anticipate open receivers. This type of massive improvement is the jump Corral needed to be in the QB1 conversation. Yes, the early schedule hasn’t been challenging against Louisville, Austin Peay, and Tulane, but it has allowed a nice comparison of Corral and Rattler. Corral was 23/31 for 344 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs against Tulane in Week 3 while Rattler went 30/39 for 304 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. It’s as apples to apples as we can apply, but Corral had the better stats AND showcased better traits than Rattler did against Tulane. Even adding in the rushing numbers, Corral ran 13 times for 68 yards and 4 TDs vs. Rattler’s 6 rushes for 35 yards and a TDs.
Corral’s physical tools also need to be mentioned. He has what you want with a lightning-quick release with sharp zip that gets to the receiver quickly. His footwork also helps create that zip by driving through his front foot while firming himself up to step up in the pocket. You also have to love the mobility Corral has, along with a good sense of pocket presence. When under pressure so far this season, He has been much improving about feeling it to step up or roll out and extend the play. He is no Lamar Jackson, but Corral is a rushing threat that has to be accounted for when he gets in the red zone or outside the pocket. If this all continues into SEC play, it will be hard to deny a spot atop the 2022 QB rankings.
I’ve made the move. Corral is my #1 QB in my rankings as of the writing of this article. There is lots of football left to play and plenty can still happen, but the combination of upside, improvement, and physical traits has made me put him there as a projection for the rest of the season.
Follow Shane on Twitter @ShanePHallam