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Galina: Why top 2022 NFL Draft prospect Matt Corral's production is not what it seems

Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) runs the ball during the first half against the LSU Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

It was 2019, and Matt Corral had lost the Ole Miss starting quarterback job to John Rhys Plumlee. By Week 5 of that season, while Corral was still getting reps, Plumlee was out-snapping him.

The move made sense at the time — Plumlee’s superb athleticism could handle offensive coordinator’s Rich Rodriguez’s quarterback run-based offense. Yet, here we are two seasons later and Corral is projected as the first quarterback taken off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft.

What exactly has happened since then, and where does Corral rank among the draft-eligible quarterbacks?

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After the 2019 season, Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke was fired and so was the aforementioned Rich Rodriguez. Incoming head coach Lane Kiffin’s offense, while using certain quarterback run schemes, was a heavier pass-based offense. Even after Plumlee’s scintillating 2019 true freshman campaign, it did make sense for Kiffin to look at his two quarterbacks on the roster and figure out who was the better passer. 

Ole Miss 2019 Quarterbacks
Quarterback 2019 Passing Grade 2019 Rushing Grade
Matt Corral 70.4 60.7
John Rhys Plumlee 60.1 78.6

Based on the above, it certainly would make sense for Kiffin to pick Corral as his maestro, even with Plumlee’s breakout season in the rearview mirror. It was the right choice. Ole Miss went 5-5 in 2020 with a great offense that ranked ninth in the country in expected points added per play and then 10-3 in 2021 with an offensive efficiency rank of 26th. Under Kiffin, Corral produced a two-year PFF grade of 91.0. 

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