Carolina traded its second-round pick to the Jets for Sam Darnold (a move that hasn't worked out for the Panthers thus far) and its third-round pick to the Jaguars for C.J. Henderson. But they sent a 2023 third-round pick to the Patriots to move from the fourth round to the third round for Corral, a smart move at that point in the draft. While off-field concerns might have contributed to Corral's fall in the draft, he's a potential future starter with a quick release and movement skills.
This is good value for Carolina. Corral's ball-placement issues were a major concern. And he's not quite the athlete to be able to win as an improviser in the NFL. But the raw talent is there, and the Panthers needed to address the QB spot.
Strengths: Quick release, throws from multiple arm angles, athleticism to be a running threat and extend plays
Weaknesses: Slight frame, simplistic one-read offense, timing and anticipation
Ole Miss' Matt Corral is an excellent example of why the need exists to disassociate a prospect's traits from his surroundings.
No one can deny what Corral did in the SEC over the last two seasons. The quarterback completed 69 percent of his passes for 6,686 yards and 49 touchdowns, not including the 15 rushing touchdowns he scored, against the highest level of collegiate competition. In fact, he led the FBS with 384.3 total yards per game in 2020.
The production speaks for itself. How Corral accumulated those numbers is a different story.
Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin employs a quarterback-friendly, albeit simplified, scheme, which allows his offense to play much faster. It doesn't necessarily help his quarterbacks from a developmental standpoint. Corral put up numbers, but his production won't necessarily translate to the pros.
Furthermore, Ole Miss listed Corral at 205 pounds. The quarterback bulked up to 212 for the combine. How much he actually carries when he's in playing shape is unknown, but his ability to take a pounding should come into question since he started for only one fully healthy season while suffering rib and ankle injuries in 2019 and '21.
The Carolina Panthers did an excellent job through the first two days of the draft despite limited resources. Ickey Ekwonu was a home-run selection with the No. 6 pick. Carolina wasn't on the clock again until 88 picks later and still landed a potential future starting quarterback in Corral.
Like every other quarterback in the class not named Kenny Pickett, Corral's star fell much further than expected. He still presents enough potential to push Sam Darnold and give the Panthers some hope at the game's most important position.
Corral (6-foot-2, 212) completed 67.9% of his passes with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions last season. He also ran for 773 yards (excluding sacks).
Corral plays with a competitive, fiery personality, but that can lead to him absorbing unnecessary contact, which could be a major problem in the NFL. Decision-making and ball security could also be issues. Corral had seven intentional groundings and eight fumbles last year, per Brugler.
I preferred Malik Willis and Desmond Ridder to Corral, but scouting quarterbacks is hard. And when you don't have a guy, you should be taking swings like this. Even if it doesn't work out, this process makes sense for Carolina.
The Panthers weren't in position to catch a falling Ridder or Willis with their limited draft capital but Corral fell into their range to trade up here. The arm and athletic upside was worth it to give them a rookie option to compete to push Sam Darnold.
The Panthers didn't force a quarterback and their patience pays off. Improved decision-making and ball placement helped Corral cut down on interceptions (five) in 2021 compared to the previous season (14). Corral throws with a quick release, has above-average arm strength and the mobility to make and extend plays.
Corral wouldn't have been a good pick in Round 1, but late on Day 2, there's value here considering quarterback is the most important position in the game. Corral's offense at Ole Miss made his projection to the NFL a little more difficult, as it was full of run-pass options (RPOs) and simplistic reads. Despite the quarterback-friendly offense, Corral was consistently on time and delivered accurate throws while showing off an exceptional deep ball. His 2021 campaign left a lot to be desired in some aspects, but some of that had to do with injury. Corral's 2021 season took a nosedive mid-season when injury struck the quarterback and his top wide receivers. Yes, the Ole Miss quarterback fought through his ailments and played, but his output wasn't up to his standards. His 91.1 PFF grade through Week 7 was the fourth-highest in the FBS, but that mark fell 20 grading points to 70.6 from Week 8 on.
Grade: Very Good
View photos of Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, drafted by Carolina in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.