2022 NFL Draft Notebook: What Makes Matt Corral A 1st Round Prospect

Sep 11, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; quarterback Matt Corral (2) throws a pass against the Austin Peay Governors during the second quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; quarterback Matt Corral (2) throws a pass against the Austin Peay Governors during the second quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2022 NFL Draft class of quarterbacks is an interesting group. Going into the season most people expected Spencer Rattler to be the top quarterback, but he underwhelmed and was benched midway through the season. On the other hand, we saw two quarterbacks in Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral go from mid-to-late round grades entering the season to likely top-15 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

This week’s NFL Draft Notebook takes an in-depth look at the 2022 NFL Draft class of quarterbacks starting with a scouting report on Ole Miss’s Matt Corral. Along with breaking down Corral’s game this week’s article also takes a look at the following

  • Updated rankings of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft
  • A few prospects who have helped themselves with strong bowl games
  • One prospect each NFC East team might take with their top draft pick
  • And much more

Matt Corral Scouting Report

Matt Corral had an up and down college career starting off when he committed to both USC and Florida before decommitting to both schools and finally landing at Ole Miss. He then saw limited playing time his first two seasons for the Rebels redshirting in 2018 and splitting time with John Rhys-Plumlee in 2019.

However, things started to change for Matt Corral when Ole Miss hired Lane Kiffin as its new head coach after the 2019 season. He started that year off by throwing for a career-high at the time 395 yards and three touchdowns along with rushing for 50 yards against Florida. He also put up outstanding numbers vs. Vanderbilt and South Carolina throwing for over 400 yards in both games.

On the downside, Corral also had some struggles that season when it came to turning the ball over. He finished the year throwing 14 interceptions including two horrific games against Arkansas where he threw six interceptions and vs. LSU where he had five.

This season we have seen Matt Corral go from an interesting mid-round prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft to a player carrying a first-round grade. One of the reasons we have seen his stock rise so much is that he cut down on the interceptions having only thrown four this season. He has also improved his accuracy and proven he is a strong leader that is capable of leading an NFL franchise. Now that Corral has proven himself as a high-level college quarterback the question becomes how does he measure up an NFL prospect.

One thing that will likely make Corral a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft is his accuracy. A trait that shows up on Corral’s film is how he consistently hits his receivers in stride and rarely throws a bad ball. Another thing that is impressive about Corral’s accuracy is that he can consistently hit his receiver when on the move or when standing in the pocket. NFL teams will also like how well he throws the deep ball consistently showing great ball placement on these passes.

Another trait that stands out with Matt Corral is his athletic ability. While he is not in the Malik Willis category as an athlete he does show the mobility to be used in a variety of ways. One area he excels at is sprinting out to throw. In this area, he shows the quickness to make defenders come up because they are afraid he will take off and the accuracy to hit his target downfield. Another area he can be used at in the NFL due to his ability to run is in zone-reads which is something he did often at Ole Miss.

One more positive with him is his leadership ability. He has won his teammates over at Ole Miss due to his toughness, competitive drive and overall gritty mentality. One example of his toughness came this season when he played on an injured ankle vs. Liberty. He also shows both his competitiveness and leadership skills by playing in the Sugar Bowl and when asked why mentioning how he wouldn’t be here without his teammates and will give them everything he has.

While Corral has the traits to be a first-round pick, NFL scouts will likely have some concerns with his game. One of these concerns is his lack of outstanding arm strength. Even though he does have the arm to throw the ball downfield his deep passes tend to hang at times which allows the defensive back to catch up. One thing that does hurt him on the deep ball especially when forced to move in the pocket is that he doesn’t always reset with a good base.

A couple of other concerns that could push Matt Corral to the middle of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft include a lack of ideal size and not playing in a pro-style offense. Corral is listed at only 6-foot and 200 pounds which makes some NFL decision-makers question how durable will be at the next level. He also plays in a spread offense at Ole Miss and will be asked to play in a more traditional offense at the next level.

When it comes to where Matt Corral goes in the 2022 NFL Draft a lot will come down to how well he does at events like the NFL Combine, his pro day, and personal workouts with teams. If he can put on outstanding performances at these events it is not out of the question for him to be a top-five pick especially if a team like Detroit or the Giants decide it can’t wait any longer to address the quarterback position.

2022 NFL Draft Stock Up

Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU
When your third-best performance of the season is a day when you rush for 192 yards you are having an outstanding season. This is the case with BYU running back Tyler Allgeier who rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns vs UAB in the Independence Bowl. Allgeier’s physical running style should be enough to make him a mid-day three pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe set several NCAA records in the Boca Raton Bowl. One of the records he broke was most touchdown passes in a season with 62 which broke Joe Burrow’s record. He also set the record for most passing yards in a season with 5,967 yards which broke B.J. Symons’ record of 5,833 yards.

Brenton Cox, DE, Florida
The hit of the bowl season so far belongs to Florida defensive end Brenton Cox. Cox nailed Central Florida quarterback Mikey Keene towards the end of the second quarter on a stunt he ran to perfection. Overall, on the day Cox finished with five tackles and one sack which gave him 8.5 sacks on the season. While Cox has battled some injuries this season it is not out of the question for him to be selected at the end of the second day of the 2022 NFL Draft.


Chad Muma, MLB, Wyoming
To say Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma had a breakthrough season this year is an understatement. Going into the 2021 season Muma only had 124 tackles and zero picks. He was able to top all of his career numbers this season finishing the season with 142 tackles and three picks two of which he returned for touchdowns. He finished off his season on a strong note as well recording 13 tackles and half a sack vs Kent State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

2022 NFL Draft Stock Down

Ben Ratzlaff, WR, Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky saw great production from a couple of players who transferred from Houston Baptist after last season including quarterback Bailey Zappe and wide receiver Jerreth Sterns. However, one player who did not produce at a high level after transferring was wide receiver Ben Ratzlaff. In 2020, Ratzlaff averaged 7.7 catches per game at Houston Baptist and as a junior set a school record with 1,139 receiving yards. This past season which was his first at Western Kentucky he only caught 12 passes on the season for 118 yards.

Durrell Johnson, OLB, Liberty
Last season, Liberty outside linebacker Durrell Johnson led the Flames in tackles for loss with 11.5 and in sacks with 8.5. This season though he has seen his production plummet having not recorded a single sack this year. Despite seeing this dip in his play he could still get looks as a 3-4 outside linebacker and one team who has already taken an interest in him is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Keylon Stokes, WR, Tulsa
A player who missed his team’s bowl game and most of the 2021 season due to injury is Tulsa wide receiver Keylon Stokes. Even when on the field Stokes did not put up the type of numbers he did in 2020 finishing with under 40 yards receiving in two of his three games. This compares to last season when he had over 40 yards receiving in all but two games and led the team in receiving yards and receptions.

Quarterback rankings

After seeing five quarterbacks taken in the first round and with the top three picks of the 2021 NFL Draft we see a dip in the talent at this position in the 2022 NFL Draft. Only three quarterbacks earn a first-round grade on my board this year and only four players earn a day or day two grade. Part of the reason for the lack of depth at this position is that several quarterbacks like Spencer Rattler, Bo Nix, and Phil Jurkovec have decided to return to school. On the positive side though we do have a couple of small school quarterbacks who could be interesting late-round draft picks.

Top prospect: Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
The race for the top quarterback spot is a two-man race between Matt Corral and Kenny Pickett. While Corral is the more mobile quarterback and does a great job of throwing from different platforms my top-rated quarterback is Kenny Pickett. The reason Pickett is rated as the top quarterback is that he has better accuracy than Corral and also has better footwork. While Pickett has a slight lead for the top quarterback spot both of these quarterbacks are worth a first-round pick and should develop into NFL starters.

Most underrated: Cole Johnson, James Madison
One of the most underrated players in the 2022 NFL Draft is James Madison quarterback Cole Johnson. This season Johnson completed 68% of his passes while throwing for 3,779 yards and 41 touchdowns compared to only four interceptions. To go along with his outstanding production he has the skill set to get a serious look in an NFL camp. He shows impressive athletic ability for a quarterback who is 6-foot-5 and does a nice job of throwing on the run. In addition to his mobility, he also displays the accuracy and touch to at the bare minimum be signed as a priority free agent after the draft.

Most overrated: Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
In last week’s NFL Draft Notebook we touched on how most people are overrating Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder, and how he should not be getting first-round grades. The two main reasons for this is his lack of consistent accuracy and his overall decision-making ability.

Sleeper: E.J. Perry, Brown
A player to watch at East-West Shrine Bowl is Brown quarterback E.J. Perry. This season Perry was named the Ivy League’s Offensive Player of the Year despite playing on a 2-8 team. What is most intriguing about Perry is his ability to hurt teams with both his arm and feet. In 2019 he led the Bears in both rushing yards and passing yards on his way to leading the nation in total offense. While he needs to cut down on the turnovers and prove he has the arm strength to play at the next level, he should be a player who has a good shot of making a practice squad next season.

Biggest risk: Carson Strong, Nevada
Two things make Nevada’s Carson Strong the riskiest prospect in this year’s quarterback class. The first one is the knee injury he suffered in high school and had to have surgery on after the 2020 season. This will be something NFL teams will thoroughly investigate during medical checks at the NFL Combine, and he will need a positive report if he is to be a high draft pick. The other one is that he did not play in a pro-style offense at Nevada. These two concerns are the main reasons he currently carries a fourth-round draft grade.

Player who had a breakout year: Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Going into the 2021 season Pittsburgh quarterback was regarded as a fifth or sixth-round prospect. The biggest knock on Pickett was his tendency to turn the ball over having thrown 18 picks from 2019-2020. This season though he was able to cut down on those interceptions throwing just seven picks on the season compared to 42 touchdowns. His ability to protect the ball this season and improve on his accuracy has allowed Pickett to go from a day-three prospect to a likely first-round pick.

Player who had a disappointing year: Sam Howell, North Carolina
A player who was hurt by offseason losses this season was North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell. He saw most of his top playmakers jet off to the NFL after the season including running backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter along with wide receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome all of whom were drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft. The loss of these players caused Howell production to significantly drop as he saw his completion percentage and touchdown passes go down while his interception total went up.

Top small school prospect: Cole Kelley, Southeastern Louisiana
Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Cole Kelley enters the season as the top small-school quarterback which is a spot he still holds after a strong 2021. This season Kelley threw for an impressive 5,124 yards and 44 touchdowns and rushed for another 16 scores. When looking at Kelley’s next level potential he has the size, accuracy and overall football IQ to make a roster next season.

Overall Rankings
1. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh (first round)
2. Matt Corral, Ole Miss (first round)
3. Malik Willis, Liberty (first round)
4. Sam Howell, North Carolina (third round)
5. Carson Strong, Nevada (fourth round)
6. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati (fourth round)
7. Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan (sixth round)
8. Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky (sixth round)
9. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA (sixth round)
10. Tanner McKee, Stanford (sixth round)
11. Brock Purdy, Iowa State (seventh round)
12. Cole Kelley, Southeastern Louisiana (free agent)
13. Cole Johnson, James Madison (free agent)
14. D’Eriq King, Miami (free agent)
15. E.J. Perry, Brown (free agent)
16. Chase Garbers, California (free agent)
17. Levi Lewis, Louisiana (free agent)

2022 NFL Draft Prospects for the NFC East

A look at one prospect each NFC East team might take with their top draft pick.

Dallas Cowboys
One of the biggest need the Dallas Cowboys have is finding another edge rusher to pair with Micah Parsons and Randy Gregory. A player who could fill this need late in the first round is San Diego State defensive end Cameron Thomas. This past season Thomas recorded 11.5 sacks which led the Mountain West Conference and was the seventh-best mark in the FBS.

New York Giants
The New York Giants will likely have two top ten picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and it would not be a surprise if they addressed both the offensive and defensive lines with these picks. On the offensive side of the ball, they would be wise to take Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross. Cross would be able to team up with Andrew Thomas and give the Giants two young building blocks on an offensive line that desperately needs to be rebuilt.

Philadelphia Eagles
Another team that has plenty of 2022 NFL Draft capital is the Philadelphia Eagles who have three first-round picks in the draft. With this much capital, it would not be a shock to see the team package some of these picks and move up and select one of the top defensive backs in the 2022 NFL Draft. One player who the team could target is LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.

Washington Football Team
While quarterback Taylor Heinicke has had his moments this year, he is probably better off being a backup in the NFL. This means Washington will need to address the quarterback position in either free agency or the 2022 NFL Draft. One quarterback who would fit in offensive cordinator Scott Turner’s system is Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral.

Scouting Notes

— Last week UTSA cornerback Tariq Woolen made it official that he would be in the 2022 NFL Draft. This should not come as a surprise though as Woolen had already agreed to play in the Senior Bowl. When looking at Woolen as a prospect the first thing that sticks out is his impressive measurables including his 6-foot-4 height and 4.34 40-yard dash. Despite these strong testing numbers expect Woolen to be day three pick as he needs to refine his technique and improve his ball skills.

— One of the more intriguing players to watch at this year’s Senior Bowl will be Florida running back Dameon Pierce. What makes him a player to keep an eye on is that he saw limited touches at Florida this season, yet when he did have the ball was one of the most physical runners in college football. On numerous occasions, he ran through multiple defenders and consistently showed outstanding contact balance. To go along with his power as a runner he displayed the vision to be a possible starting running back in the NFL for a team that runs a zone-blocking scheme. One more positive with Pierce is he can help out in the passing game whether it be catching the ball out of the backfield or helping protect the quarterback in pass protection.

— It looks like the Houston Texans might be out of the quarterback market this offseason. The reason the Texans likely won’t take a quarterback early in the 2022 NFL Draft has been the play of quarterback Davis Mills the last three games. Over this three-game span, he has thrown for 794 yards and five touchdowns while only throwing one interception. He has also outplayed 2021 number one pick Trevor Lawrence and 2020 Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert in his last two games. While it would be a shock if Houston took a quarterback in the first three rounds the team could still consider adding a quarterback on day three of the draft as a developmental project.

— While Georgia’s Jordan Davis is the top nose tackle in the 2022 NFL Draft, a player to watch at this position on day three of the draft is Dion Novil of North Texas. This season Novil finished with 51 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles which are extremely impressive numbers for a 330-pound defensive lineman. One of his top traits is his quickness especially for a player who can play the zero technique. He does a good job getting off the ball and has the first step to beat centers off the ball. His quick first step also allows him to be a pass-rushing threat which is one of the main reasons he has been able to account for 11.5 sacks during his college career, While Novil does possess an intriguing combination of size, quickness and power he will need some time before he makes an impact in the NFL. This is due to the fact he is still a raw player when it comes to fundamentals and especially getting off blocks.

— A college player who had great production but might struggle to make the transition to the next level is Western Kentucky wide receiver Jerreth Sterns. This season Sterns led the FBS in receptions (150) receiving yards (1,902) and touchdowns (17) and was named C-USA Newcomer of the Year. Despite these outstanding numbers Sterns only carries a free agent grade due to his lack of outstanding physical skills. He comes in at only 5-foot-9 and lacks the elite quickness you want to see from a player that size. He also is not asked to win many contested catches and instead sees a lot of his production come from short swing passes. Overall, Sterns looks like the type of prospect who puts up big numbers in college because of the system he plays in yet does not do much to impress scouts.

Quote of the Week

“Why? Because I’m a Gator, bro. When I signed here, I signed for four good years, get my education and I’m going to rock out that way until I die, you know.”
-Florida RB Dameon Pierce on why he decided to play in the team’s bowl game