BRONCOS

With Matt Corral turning pro, should the Broncos move up for him?

Nov 23, 2021, 6:35 AM
Matt Corral...
(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

As I mentioned last week in my quick look at Nevada quarterback Carson Strong, I’m deep diving early on the 2022 NFL Draft this year. First, I love the draft and the draft season is my favorite time of year. Second, the Denver Broncos stink and rather than sit around and complain about the coaching staff and quarterback situation I want to be proactive in looking for answers for this team.

I usually take a deep dive into prospects around the college bowl season. So, I’m a couple of weeks early but excited to be here.

The 2022 NFL Draft does not feature a strong quarterback class. In fact, former scout Daniel Jeremiah tweeted that a scout told him 10 players from the 2021 class would go ahead of the No. 1 overall pick this year. I’ve heard from some buddies in the scouting community that this quarterback class is weaker than the one we saw in 2021. In fact, I was told this quarterback class is reminiscent of the 2013 class when E.J. Manuel (a first-round bust) was the only passer selected on the first day.

Now, it’s a quarterback-desperate league and I’m sure more than one quarterback will be selected on day one of the 2021 NFL Draft. In fact, there is one quarterback who is generating a lot of buzz as the college football season has gone on and he could be a top pick.

One player who is “all in” on the 2022 NFL Draft is Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral. Whereas some players we are left to wonder if they’re going pro until the New Year, Corral has already made his intention clear with a “farewell” tweet to the Rebels.

So, would Corral be an option for the Broncos – and would they have to move up to get him? Here’s an early swipe and some of my notes on the Rebels quarterback.

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You Better Be Sure

Corral is a master of the RPO (Run/Pass Option) offense. He’s played in a few offenses during his college career, but the RPO fits his skill set the best. Corral is incredibly gifted as a runner. Not only is he fast, but he also has moves to make defenders look silly. Corral also has power to run through would-be tackles and certainly has a nose for the end zone as a runner (10 rushing touchdowns this season).

It takes a talented player to run the RPO and succeed in both running and passing. NFL teams have implemented the RPO, but there are pro quarterbacks who struggle with the passing part. Several teams try to get by on the ground while the quarterback hopefully gets better as a passer. Sometimes, in the case of Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson things work out. Sometimes, things are still blurry as in the case of Jalen Hurts. Corral is more likely to turn out like the former and not the latter.

Corral knows how to throw on the run. He does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield while keeping the play alive with his feet. If a window opens, even a small one, Corral will want to attack with his arm – and he can hit his target. If nothing opens, Corral can hurt you as a runner. He’s the best of both worlds, and that’s what makes him a favorite in the new-era NFL where athletic quarterbacks are more than just ‘the rage’ they are a necessity.

It’s going to take a creative head coach and offensive coordinator to get the most out of Corral’s game. His athleticism cannot be denied or squelched. Yes, as his game matures, he needs to do more from the pocket but as a young quarterback he needs to be let loose on the ground.

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Double-Edged Sword

There is no doubt that Corral is a confident player. However, his confidence borderlines on arrogance when it comes to his belief in what his arm can do. This creates a double-edged sword when Corral is going back to pass the ball.
He has never seen a pass he can’t make. Corral has arm talent and can make every throw required in the NFL. He does a good job of placing passes in the best spots for his receivers, leading players down the field and to open space if possible. Corral has timing and touch as a thrower, and I like the way his frame and his feet move as he goes through his hitches.

When going back to pass, Corral is always on the attack. He thinks he can fit passes into tight windows – and he can regularly. However, with pro speed and pro discipline some of those near-interceptions from college that fit in to his receiver might end up being a tip or a pick.

Corral has cut down on his interceptions this season. Last year, Corral had three multi-interception games including throwing six picks against Arkansas and five against LSU. In 2021, Corral has zero multi-interception games and only has thrown four picks on the season.

There are going to be some bad plays with Corral. That’s just the way it goes with a super confident thrower who won’t back down. Corral isn’t going to check the ball down. He wants to go for the big play, and hopefully those big gains outweigh the boneheaded throws.

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Natural Born Leader

It’s said that 80 percent of scouting is background/character analysis. Anyone can see physical ability, it’s something former NFL GM (49ers, WFT) Scot McCloughan told me years ago. In order to find the right player, the right quarterback specifically, it takes insight on more than what they do on the football field.

His coach at Ole Miss, former NFL coach Lane Kiffin, certainly knows what it takes to be a strong leader in the huddle and in the locker room. From the sounds of it, Corral has done all you want and more when you play quarterback. Remember, it’s not just a position in sports – playing quarterback means you have a responsibility to your teammates, your front office and your fans. It’s like being a CEO of a team, and Corral is king in the board room.

In a game against Vanderbilt last week, Corral’s final home game, the young quarterback took it upon himself to “get in the kitchen” of his teammates after a disappointing performance. Instead of Kiffin having to chew out some players, Corral was doing that instead – and the Rebels won 31-17 over the Commodores.

Any team who drafts Corral is getting a natural born leader who should be charismatic and fiery with the media. He’s not going to let anyone get away with not giving full effort. He himself is going to practice and play with a ton of heart.

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Summary

Corral is going pro, so every team that is interested has already built a book on him. I think a lot of scouts look to Corral in the same way they saw Zach Wilson (BYU) last year. He’s not as highly touted as Wilson, but could rise up draft boards and into the top-5 like Wilson did in 2021.

After their bye in Week 11, the Broncos still sit at 5-5 and would have the no.13 overall pick if the draft was today. That means moving up for Corral would be what they must do if they identify him as a player they can’t do without.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times – it’s all about “fit” in the NFL. We don’t know who the head coach or the offensive coordinator will be in 2022, so I don’t know how Corral would fit with this team. I know any team who drafts him must commit to his style of play.

Just from a quick swipe of his game tape, I think Corral would be best suited to wind up with a team like the Carolina Panthers where a former college coach like Matt Rhule could build an offense around him and the RPO.
Corral is arguably the best quarterback in this draft class. He’s a new-era quarterback because of his rushing ability, but if he could sit for some time behind a veteran then perhaps that is the best route for him. There’s something there with Corral that could be special, but he must be groomed the right way.

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With Matt Corral turning pro, should the Broncos move up for him?