The best players left after the first round


(Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

Height: 6’2″ (25th) Weight: 212 (21st)
40-Yard Dash: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Vertical Jump: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A
3- Cone Drill: N/A
20-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Bio: Matt Corral was graded as the sixth-highest pocket passer in the 2018 recruiting class according to ESPN.com, and he played in the 2018 Army All-American Bowl. Corral’s recruiting journey took a few turns, as he originally decided to stay close to home and play for the University of Southern California. Corral then switched to Florida, before finally settling on Mississippi.

After appearing in a handful of games as a freshman in 2018, Corral was named the team’s starting quarterback in 2019. Mississippi struggled and limped to a 4-8 record, and Lane Kiffin was hired to take over the coaching duties following that season.

Under Kiffin, Corral began to thrive. In the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, Corral threw for 3,337 yards and 29 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions. 11 of those turnovers, however, came in just two games as Corral threw six interceptions in a loss to Arkansas early in the year, and five interceptions in a loss to LSU late in the season.

This past season, Corral led Mississippi to a ten-win year, and it was his most efficient and productive season while on campus. Corral 67.7% of his completed passes for 3,343 yards and 20 touchdowns, against just five interceptions. He also added 614 yards on 152 carries, both of which were career-high marks as a runner. Corral decided to play in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor, but suffered an injury early in the game.

Stats to know: As we will discuss, scheme fit and transition to the NFL are going to be questions. According to Pro Football Focus charting, Corral used play-action on over 60% of his dropback throws last season, the highest among passers in the FBS.

Strengths: Corral is an athletic quarterback with the mobility to not only extend plays in the pocket, but to be a true weapon with his legs. Mechanically, Corral shows a crisp, quick release with a compact throwing motion and a release point just by his ear, allowing him to snap off throws early in the down.

Kiffin’s offense did him many favors, but one of the things that it did for Corral was create opportunities for him to manipulate defenders. As such, Corral is one of the more efficient manipulators in this quarterback class, with an array of pump fakes, shoulder shrugs and eye manipulation at his disposal to get defenders out of position and to attack downfield.

Footwork in the pocket and working through reads is another area that stands out with Corral. You can see moments on tape where his eyes and his feet are right in sync with each other, as he works from his first read to his last on a given play. Take this example as Corral works full-field, right to left:

This is one of Mississippi’s staple plays, as they use orbit motion into a swing route on the right, setting up a high-low on that side of the field with a deeper curl route as the high. Corral opens to that concept, but seeing it covered then comes to the pair of in-breaking routes coming from the left, before getting to the checkdown in the left flat. As he works through his reads, his feet and mind are tied together perfectly, keeping him in position to put the throw on his running back as his fifth read.

Corral’s athleticism shows up on plays like this against Alabama:

Corral has the athletic ability and reaction skills to evade unexpected pressure in the pocket, and still get off throws like this under pressure.

Weaknesses: The biggest questions facing Corral center on his development and transition from Kiffin’s offense to what life will be like in the NFL. As outlined, the Mississippi offense heavily relied on both play-action and RPO concepts. There are some offenses in the NFL that will provide him a similar opportunity, but likely not to the same extent. Corral will need to make plays consistently from the pocket at the next level, or at least with more frequency than he was asked to do in college.

Corral also has the ability to attack the middle of the field, and to layer throws between the numbers, but this is not something he did a ton while playing on Saturdays.

There are also moments on film where you can see how Kiffin dialed up a vertical shot play and Corral insisted on taking that throw, passing up opportunities for an easier completion near the line of scrimage. Sometimes you have to pass up the three and settle for the layup.

Conclusion: Corral is one of the tougher evaluations in this class, and his evaluation has shades of Justin Herbert’s. Like Herbert, most of what Corral was asked to do things in college are things that do not provide a clean and easy evaluation for life in the Sunday game. Corral’s offense relied heavily on RPO and play-action concepts, with lots of screens and concepts attacking along the boundaries.

The flashes of layered throws, progression reads and concepts attacking between the numbers are there, but there might not be enough exposures of those concepts and moments for teams to feel confident that those flashes will be repeated on a consistent basis in the NFL. Which is eerily similar to the Herbert evaluation. The moments were there, but you had to really look to find them, and even still, betting on small sample sizes — particularly early in the draft — is something teams do not always do.

Comparison: One of the more interesting comparisons I have come across this draft cycle is the comparison PFF had for Corral: Jim McMahon. It is hard to top that, but watching Corral and seeing how he was used at Mississippi — and how he might be used in the NFL, at least early — provides shades of Tua Tagovailoa.

Resources: For more on Corral, you can watch this deep dive into his game put together by myself and Matt Waldman:

There is also this dive into his game against Mississippi State, with a focus on the elements to his game that will translate to Sundays:

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