The 2022 NFL Draft is primed to be one of the most interesting drafts we’ve seen in years. Unlike recent drafts, this class doesn’t feature any elite quarterbacks who have been on the radar for multiple seasons. Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and North Carolina’s Sam Howell were supposed to be in the QB1 conversation, but they’ve been disappointing this season.
A few other small school quarterbacks, such as Malik Willis and Carson Strong, have become intriguing prospects, but I believe Ole Miss’s Matt Corral is making a great case to be the best quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft.
In 2020, Matt Corral had a solid sophomore season, completing 70.9% of his passes and throwing for 3,337 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He was pretty consistent for most of the year, but he had trouble protecting the football sometimes. His two worst performances last year came against Arkansas and LSU. In those two games, he combined for five touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He threw at least five interceptions in each contest.
Matt Corral has been exceptional through three games this season, completing 68.8% of his passes and throwing for 997 yards, nine touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He hasn’t played against touch competition yet, but he’s dominating against lesser teams in a way that great prospects should.
Matt Corral the QB1 of the 2022 NFL Draft?
The most impressive thing about Corral’s performance so far is how efficient he’s been. Here are some of his advanced box score stats, along with his ranking in each metric:
Completion Percentage: 68.8% (26th)
Touchdown Rate: 9.38% (13th)
Interception Rate: 0% (T-1st)
Yards Per Attempt: 10.4 (6th)
Adjusted Yards Per Attempt: 12.3 (4th)
Passer Rating: 186.9 (5th)
These numbers are fantastic and make him one of the most efficient passers in the entire country. Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall has been more efficient as a passer this season. Still, when you consider passing volume, I think Corral has statistically been the most impressive passer in college football this season.
Something that doesn’t get talked about enough is Corral’s athleticism. In 2020, he had 112 carries for 506 yards and four touchdowns. This season, he has 33 carries for 158 yards and five touchdowns. Here are his rushing stats on a per-game basis, along with his ranking for each metric:
Carries: 11 (10th)
Rushing Yards: 52.7 (11th)
Rushing Touchdowns: 1.6 (2nd)
Yards Per Carry: 4.8 (20th)
Corral has been an extremely efficient high-volume passer and one of the most productive rushing quarterbacks in the country. You won’t find many quarterbacks with this level of versatility in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Corral is pretty much everything you want in a quarterback in the modern NFL. He’s confident, accurate, mentally advanced, and he has phenomenal physical tools. Ole Miss has given him the keys to their offense, and they’re putting a lot on his plate. They’re running a ton of RPO’s and forcing him to make a lot of difficult passes into tight windows. However, he’s handling it exceptionally well and playing better than ever before.
In week one against Louisville, Corral was spectacular, completing 68.8% of his passes for 381 yards, a touchdown, and zero interceptions. In this game, he displayed excellent processing speed, great accuracy, and tremendous confidence in what he saw on the field. The speed at which he went from one read to the next was awe-inspiring, and the way his feet were connected to his eyes was fantastic to see.
One play from this game shows everything that makes Corral a special quarterback. On 1st and 10 with 44 seconds left in the second quarter, Louisville rushed three and had everyone else in coverage because it was a must-pass situation. Ole Miss was in a two-by-two shotgun formation, attempting to spread out the defense and get into field goal range.
The two receivers on the left side of the formation were running a switch concept in which the outside receiver would run inside, and the inside receiver would run outside as they switched spots to try to confuse the defense. The inside receiver ran a go route up the sideline, and Corral attempted a tough throw over a hanging corner and away from the incoming safety.
The camera angle behind the offense shows that Corral likely couldn’t see his receiver and decided to attempt the pass because he knew he had just enough room to make the throw and pick up a first down. This throw needed to be perfect for it to hit his target, and it was. The confidence and arm strength required to make this throw is unbelievable and makes it one of the best throws you’ll see from any quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Although there is a lot to like about Matt Corral’s performance this season, I have two concerns. First, I want to see him improve as a deep-ball thrower. He’s not a bad deep ball thrower by any means, but he tends to slightly underthrow his receivers on deep passes, which forces his receivers to adjust and makes their job more difficult. Hopefully, he shows the ability to lead his receivers on deep passes at some point this season.
Secondly, I want to see him create plays outside the pocket. We’ve seen what he can do within structure, but we haven’t seen him extend plays and make things work even when they fall apart. The lack of playmaking in his game isn’t an issue, but it would be icing on the cake.
It’s early in the season, but Matt Corral looks like a guaranteed first-round pick. He’s producing at a very high level as both a passer and a rusher, and he displays the qualities necessary to become a successful NFL quarterback. He could be worth a top-five pick in the 2022 NFL Draft if he continues to play like this while also showing more consistency as a deep-ball thrower.