NFL Draft 2022 Rumors: Matt Corral to Panthers a 'Real Possibility' amid Pickett Buzz

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 12, 2022

Quarterback Matt Corral sets up to pass during a football drill at the Mississippi Pro Day in Oxford, Miss., Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Quarterback buzz is heating up ahead of the 2022 NFL draft.

Peter Schrager reported on the NFL Network the Carolina Panthers selecting Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral with the No. 6 overall pick is a "real possibility." The Panthers have also been heavily linked to Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett.

Liberty's Malik Willis has emerged as the favorite to be the first quarterback off the board, with the Detroit Lions being in play at No. 2 overall.

For much of the draft process, it appeared the top quarterbacks would be available outside the top 10 for the first time since 2013. Willis and Pickett have been the most sought-after options for most of the process, but neither is considered a can't-miss prospect.

There are concerns about Willis' lack of upper-level competition at the collegiate level and relatively raw skill set, while Pickett may have tapped out his potential as a four-year starter at Pitt.

Corral, meanwhile, has seemingly risen through the ranks to unseat Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder and North Carolina's Sam Howell as the consensus No. 3 in this class. NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms, a former NFL quarterback, has gone as far as to rank Corral as his top quarterback.

"He has three things that he does at an elite level," Simms said on the Dan Patrick Show. “The NFL's going to look at and go, 'That's special.' First off, his arm is extremely strong. I mean it’s like crazy strong where you go, 'Did he really throw that ball, 25 yards out route and it was like 5 feet off the ground the whole way there?'

"Then as an athlete, quickness in his feet is as good as anybody I've ever seen. His ability to pop around the pocket, get his feet situated and make a throw is phenomenal."

The Panthers are among the teams expected to look long and hard at improving at quarterback in Round 1. Carolina took a risk last offseason by acquiring Sam Darnold, who hasn't proved himself a franchise QB, and was in the Deshaun Watson hunt before he was traded to the Cleveland Browns this offseason.

With coach Matt Rhule's job on the line heading into 2022, the pick at No. 6 may wind up being the difference between saving his position and the unemployment line a year from now.