With questions abounding regarding the quarterback spot and zero draft picks on Day 2, the Carolina Panthers believe they found the answer to their problems in Mississippi by way of New England.
The Panthers traded up into the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft to select Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral on Friday in Las Vegas.
Carolina picked Corral with the No. 94 overall selection, which it got from the Patriots in exchange for the 137th overall pick (fourth round) and a 2023 third-round selection.
Trade talks surrounded Carolina all day Friday, as NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and Bridget Condon all reported talks were ongoing with the Panthers and Cleveland Browns about quarterback Baker Mayfield. Instead, the Panthers swapped with the Pats and grabbed Corral.
A polarizing yet gifted quarterback, Corral's maturity has come under scrutiny during the pre-draft process but his dual-threat abilities en route to averaging an FBS-leading 384.3 yards of total offense per game can't be ignored.
Corral was the fourth quarterback selected in the draft, but he could very well have the best chance at a starting job. Sam Darnold is currently atop a shaky Carolina depth chart as head coach Matt Rhule continues to reach for a franchise quarterback heading into his third season at the Panthers helm.
Rhule clarified that Darnold remains atop said depth chart -- for now, at least.
"[Corral is] not walking in Day 1 as a starter," Rhule said Friday night, via The Athletic's Joe Person. "Sam [Darnold] is our starter."
The Ole Miss product spent two seasons as a full-time starter, surpassing the 3,300-yard passing mark in each campaign. He earned second-team All-SEC honors in 2021. In 2020, he led the FBS with 384.3 total yards per game (passing and rushing).
Ideal for the RPO game, Corral boasts a quick trigger and excellent athleticism. The 6-foot-1 QB is a bit undersized, but with a bulldog mentality, he fearlessly runs into harm's way to make plays. Corral owns the ability to avoid pressure in the pocket and escape to turn potential losses into positive gains.
There are durability concerns given his playing style and lighter frame. Notably, he suffered an ankle injury in the Sugar Bowl. X-rays on the injury were negative, but kept Corral from participating in much of the physical parts of the draft process.
In his final season in Oxford, he completed 67.9% of 386 attempts for 3,349 yards with 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions -- nine fewer than his previous season. Cutting down on the turnover-worthy plays was a key to Corral's success and bodes well for his ability to make the leap to the NFL. Combining his enticing athleticism with a stellar NFL arm makes Corral a prospect who could be a gamer with the proper grooming.
Will he have time to be groomed, or will he be thrust into the fire in Charlotte?
The Panthers traded up for Corral and though he was taken in the third round, he'll shoulder questions regarding his maturity and pressure to be a QB1.
After a celebrated selection at No. 6 overall with Ickey Ekwonu, general manager Scott Fitterer and the Panthers vaulted back into Day 2, caused a stir and got their hopeful QB of the future.