Last week, Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo told us he’s a “big swing-for-the-fences type of guy” when it comes to his preference in quarterbacks. Now, it’s time to start swinging away.
Void of Day 2 draft capital at the start of Friday night, Carolina squeezed their way into the back of the third round—shipping a pair of picks to the New England Patriots for the 94th overall selection. And with that selection, they handed McAdoo a bat—a 6-foot-2, 212-pound piece of lumber named Matt Corral.
So, can the Panthers end up hitting a home run with this decision? And will we ever stop using baseball metaphors when referring to a football player?
On both accounts . . . maybe. But excuse us if we think Carolina might have their quarterback of the future now on deck.
What helps give off that hope are, in part, two very striking traits. One of those is his cannon.
If you’ve followed along with what head coach Matt Rhule drools over in a quarterback, you’d know—perhaps above all—that it’s the ability to read and react at a quick pace. That particular desire was quite evident when Rhule spoke of Week 4 opponent Dak Prescott this past season, lauding the Dallas Cowboys quarterback’s capacity to get the ball out of his hand.
Corral’s senior campaign at Ole Miss proved he can eventually be that kind of distributor. On top of his smooth-as-butter release and the sharpness in which the pigskin leaves his fingertips, he displayed a noticeable improvement in his progressions during the 2021 season.
If you continue to combine that with his above-average capability to tuck and run, they may very well have themselves a smaller version of Prescott in waiting. Those skills are, additionally, quite valued in McAdoo’s West Coast-style offense.
The second of the two traits is the thing you also hear most about Corral—he’s a competitor.
Surely, you can miss most people with that rah-rah talk of toughness and heart and soul. Heck, Baker Mayfield’s got all of that and his career is in purgatory at the moment.
But for an offense that’s without an identity and a team that’s without a distinct doggedness, Corral’s presence could mean a ton for this organization. His confidence, his poise and his drive may very well end up giving the Panthers something they haven’t had under center since the first go-round of Cam Newton—an unquestioned leader.
If he is, however, to step up to the plate, Corral will need to iron out a few kinks. Not only will he have to show he’s more than just a product of a frenzied RPO attack, but he’ll also have to hone in his aggressiveness on runs to avoid major injury through unnecessary hits.
For now, however, the Panthers don’t have to rush it. They got themselves the competition to Sam Darnold that they were aiming for.
All that’s left, perhaps in due time, is for him to Wally Pipp his new teammate when he gets his chance.
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