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Matt Corral is candidate for Zach Wilson-like climb up NFL Draft boards

On3.com
On3.com
 2021-09-06
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Wesley Hitt/Getty Images.

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral was labeled a top contender for a Zach Wilson-like ascent this season, per NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah.

“He might not yet be a household name around the country, but Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral is generating a lot of buzz from NFL personnel executives heading into the 2021 college football season,” Jeremiah wrote.

Corral, a redshirt junior from Ventura, California, thrived last year in his first season under head coach Lane Kiffin. He started all ten games for the Rebels, completing just over 70 percent of his pass attempts for 3,336 yards and 29 touchdowns. Additionally, Corral tacked on 112 rushes for 506 yards and four touchdowns.

Given his rise in the SEC last season, which saw him named for All-SEC third and forth teams by various publications, perhaps the label is not a surprise. He became just the fourth player in SEC history to lead the NCAA in total offense per game last year; as a capable passer and rusher, he generated 384.9 yards per game, while ranking in the FBS’ top-10 in passing yards per game, touchdown passes and more.

“Corral has a very intriguing skill set. He’s an excellent athlete and a versatile thrower,” Jeremiah said. “He’s capable of driving the ball into small windows, layering the ball over linebackers/under safeties and dropping the deep ball into the bucket. His overall touch is outstanding. He has tremendous quickness and awareness inside the pocket to avoid the free rusher. He is effective on designed QB runs because of his suddenness and ability to elude defenders. He is very competitive to fight for extra yards.”

Jeremiah likens Corral to Zach Wilson, as the former BYU signal caller, selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, was an NFL Draft afterthought entering his final year at BYU. But in that abbreviated 2020 season, Wilson was able to complete nearly 74 percent of his pass attempts, good for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

For Corral to reach Wilson-level ascension, the Rebels offense will have to get off to to a good start in their season opener against Louisville on Monday. Corral and Ole Miss will be without head coach Lane Kiffin, however, as Kiffin recently tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Jeremiah, that begins with Corral limiting his turnovers.

“Turnovers are the main problem and they came in bunches during the 2020 campaign,” Jeremiah wrote. “He threw 11 of his 14 interceptions in two games (vs. Arkansas and LSU). His primary issues were locking onto his initial read, failing to identify underneath defenders and forcing the ball into non-existent windows. I believe he can clean this up. I’ve seen him maneuver and manipulate safeties with his eyes in the games I studied. There’s one more thing for him to work on: His eyes get ahead of his feet when scanning from one side of the field to the other on occasion.

“[Corral] doesn’t quite have the same arm talent as Wilson, but he has similar instincts, creativity and playmaking ability. Wilson had ball security issues in 2019 and he cleaned them up in 2020. I’m hopeful Corral will have similar results in 2021.

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