Ever since shedding out on Deshaun Watson, the Panthers have slow-played upgrading their quarterback room.
When Atlanta and New Orleans — fellow Watson hopefuls — additionally didn’t land Watson, each groups rushed to signal a quarterback. Free agent Marcus Mariota joined the Falcons and the Saints retained Jameis Winston. In the meantime, Carolina sat idle with Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker because the staff’s solely quarterbacks. Because it owned the No. 6 total choose and knew veterans Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo had been each obtainable, there was no rush.
Ultimately, the Panthers had been going to amass a brand new quarterback. It was a matter of when not if.
That second lastly got here late within the third spherical of Friday’s NFL draft. After Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder went No. 74 to Atlanta and Liberty’s Malik Willis’s free-fall lastly ended at No. 86 to Tennessee, the Panthers traded their 2023 third-round choose for the New England Patriots’ 94th choose and took Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral.
“One of the things that really stood out aside from the physical traits was his competitiveness and his toughness,” common supervisor Scott Fitterer mentioned. “When he runs he tries to run guys over. He’s got to learn you can’t do that. What it does show is his competitive nature. When it just comes to the physical traits, the mobility, the ability to get out and throw on the run. He sees the field well. He processes quickly.”
Corral is the ninth quarterback drafted in Panthers historical past and the primary since Carolina chosen Will Grier at No. 100, additionally within the third spherical, in 2019. However this choice is totally different.
By three rounds, the 2022 NFL draft is as unpredictable as any in latest reminiscence, particularly at quarterback. Willis was mocked as excessive as No. 2 total by a number of creditable analysts. In Vegas, the over-under on first-round quarterbacks was between 3.5 and a pair of.5. Just one went (Kenny Pickett to Pittsburgh). Corral accepted his invitation to attend the primary spherical on Thursday, which is often an indication they’ll be picked.
As an alternative, all three fell, which is why Corral needs to be judged on his four-year profession at Ole Miss fairly than his draft place. He was a three-year starter and thrived in Lane Kiffin’s RPO-heavy passing offense. In 2021, Corral threw for 3,342 yards, rushed for 614 and totaled 31 touchdowns. He’s solely 6-feet tall however his athleticism helps him create off-script performs. A number of scouts informed The Charlotte Observer Corral has the quickest launch in his class.
Through the draft course of, Corral couldn’t showcase his compact throwing movement due to an ankle damage he suffered throughout Ole Miss’s bowl recreation. He didn’t throw on the Senior Bowl or the mix. However at his professional day, he showcased his ankle was one hundred pc wholesome. Carolina is assured within the medical data it gained throughout evaluations.
Corral brings numerous expertise into the Panthers’ quarterback room. However the staff doesn’t plan to hurry him. Late Friday evening after the choose, coach Matt Rhule was fast to call Darnold the starter.
“We’re gonna bring him along slowly,” Rhule mentioned. “We’re going to train him from the ground up. He’s got a lot to learn. He’s got a lot to do, but I am unbelievably fired up to get him.”
Darnold’s early lead on the beginning job gained’t discourage Corral from preventing for the beginning spot. The plan is to have each quarterbacks compete come coaching camp. The Panthers will maintain a rookie mini-camp quickly the place Corral will get his first on-field alternative to quarterback offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system.
Corral ought to adapt to McAdoo’s high-tempo west-coast system. He’ll be requested to make numerous shotgun throws, predicated on fast deliveries and good decision-making. He performed quick at Ole Miss, too. How shortly he learns NFL verbiage and multi-read throws will decide if he can problem Darnold.
“I’ll go in there and bring the best out of myself. And bring the best out of the people around me,” Corral mentioned. “My competitive nature is gonna obviously want me to be the starter. I’m gonna do everything in my power that I can to do that.”
Bodily traits and competitiveness apart, Corral brings an assertive model of management to Carolina. A swagger the Panthers’ quarterback room wants.
He could not begin straight away. Fitterer didn’t shut the door on including a veteran quarterback. Who is aware of how Carolina may nonetheless add Mayfield or Garoppolo.
However finally, Corral will begin for Carolina. It’s on Rhule, Fitterer and proprietor David Tepper to make sure the inspiration round their new rookie holds agency whereas a brand new period begins.