Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Draft Targets: Matt Corral

(Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press)

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For all of Brian's 2022 Steelers' Draft Targets, click here: Steelers' 2022 Draft Targets

As the days leading up to the NFL Draft begin to dwindle, the picture that is the Pittsburgh Steelers' first round draft pick looks to be a tiny bit clearer.  Coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers brass appear to have their eyes affixed on a quarterback, so I felt it was only right to make my next article in this series of potential Steelers first round targets focus on one.  While there are a lot of quarterbacks being linked to the team at this time, right now I wanted to focus on the guy that is the current betting favorite to wear the black and gold after Day 1 of the draft.

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral is a name that is starting to gain some traction as draft day draws nearer.  An ankle injury in the Sugar Bowl prevented Corral from participating in draft workouts, which is why he may not be drawing the attention that some other quarterbacks in this draft are.  However, there is a lot to like about what he brings to the table.  

In my first article in this series, I talked about Liberty quarterback Malik Willis.  While there are some overlapping qualities that both he and Corral possess, Corral brings a bit of a different skill set to the quarterback position, which could greatly benefit the Steelers.

While Willis was known for his legs just as much as his arm, Corral truly represents the gunslinger-type quarterback.  In his two seasons as the starting quarterback at Ole Miss, Corral threw for 6,686 yards, 49 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.  And while Corral possesses the caliber of talent to put up those numbers, they were no doubt aided by the system he played in.  It's no coincidence that those were the two years that coach Lane Kiffin was at the helm of the Rebels program.  Kiffin has made a lot of stops on the coaching carousel, both collegiately and professionally, but regardless of where he has been, his affinity for passing the ball has shone through.

As a result, Corral was able to develop his all-around passing ability under a coach that knows it so well and has coached some great quarterbacks over the years.  This makes Corral one of the most natural passers in the draft.  While his deep ball could still use some work, 700+ pass attempts in the two years under Kiffin has given him plenty of experience with every kind of throw.  That's certainly a huge factor that an NFL team looking to fill a void at quarterback will take into consideration on draft day.

And while Willis may be a better runner than Corral is, that isn't to say Corral can't run the ball when called upon.  Last year, he rushed for 600 yards and 11 touchdowns at Ole Miss.  His legs allowed him to move fluidly throughout the pocket and escape pressure effectively, something that will endear Steelers fans after so many years of watching Ben Roethlisberger miraculously avoid sack after sack.

What Corral may lack to Willis in rushing and arm strength, he more than makes up for in experience.  Corral spent two full seasons as a starting quarterback in the toughest conference in college football, the SEC.  Going up against the likes of Georgia and Alabama have battle-tested him for some of what he will be seeing at the professional level.  

The biggest knock on Willis is that he played at Liberty, facing a lot of weaker opponents over the course of his career.  That certainly can't be said for Corral.  His numbers look that much more impressive when you take into consideration that he was going up against arguably the best two defenses in all of college football each year.

The potential con to selecting Corral, aside from his tendency to be inaccurate on the deep ball, is his size.  Standing at 6'1", he would land on the shorter side of quarterbacks in the NFL.  The prevailing thought is that shorter quarterbacks have a tougher time because of their potential inability to see over the offensive line and defensive pass rush.  However, the Steelers are leaving no stone left unturned in their search for their next future quarterback.  And if Corral is the current favorite to be that guy, they clearly like what they see in his passing abilities.  At least enough that his size is not a deterring factor.

Playing under a former NFL head coach has given Corral the skills and confidence to compete at the highest levels.  And his statistics at Ole Miss speak to that.  He took the college football world by storm early last season with his playmaking abilities and flair for the dramatic for good reason.  

While I wouldn't consider him the best option for the Steelers in this draft, he may ultimately be the one they're left with.  There's some uncertainty as to which quarterbacks will be available when the Steelers pick, but the current thought is that Corral will be the best one still remaining at pick 20.  

With the Steelers leaning more and more towards selecting a quarterback, I'll be sure to touch on all of their options as I continue this series in the coming weeks.