If there remained any doubt that the New Orleans Saints are open to adding a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft, let the team’s recent decision to acquire a second first-round pick — a move that gave them the 16th and 19th overall selections — convince you to see reason.
The move might have also further convinced Ole Miss standout Matt Corral that, after months of speculation, he will be selected in the first round after all.
Despite re-signing Jameis Winston earlier this offseason, the Saints should be considered in play to add a quarterback when the draft begins on April 28. Could the man in question be Corral, the dual-threat quarterback and 2021 second-team All-SEC honoree?
Pros: Corral would energize the Saints as a legitimate franchise quarterback option
As of publication, Corral was widely considered, at best, the 2022 NFL Draft’s third-best quarterback prospect. Liberty’s Malik Willis and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett are 1A and 1B, although the former is often discussed as the player with the higher ceiling.
What does this mean for Corral? If months of mock drafts and leaks prove correct, Willis and Pickett will be selected before the Ole Miss product’s phone rings. For transparency, I have personally mocked Willis to the Detroit Lions at No. 2 and Pickett to the Carolina Panthers at No. 6.
The Saints should be far from disappointed if Corral falls into their hands.
Corral completed 67.3% of his passes for 8,281 yards, 57 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions in four seasons with the Rebels. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound gunslinger also rushed for 1,338 yards and 18 touchdowns in 37 career games. He thrived under Lane Kiffin’s watch over the last two years and tallied 31 all-purpose touchdowns (20 passing, 11 rushing) for the 10-3 Rebels in 2021.
Although Corral isn’t the biggest quarterback, he’s drawn rave reviews for his skill set and leadership abilities. He’s also displayed an impressive ability to leave bad plays behind him, especially after he had two games in 2020 with at least five interceptions. The dynamic dual-threat quarterback threw nine fewer picks in 2021 than a season prior.
All of that should be enough for the Saints to do their best to ensure he winds up in the Black and Gold, right? Well…
Cons: Are the concerns about Corral’s size and durability justified?
Despite the fact that Corral checked in at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds at the 2022 NFL Combine, questions still remain about his size. NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein, one of the sport’s most respected draft analysts, called the Ole Miss product a “small quarterback with a big heart” in his scouting report.
As a 5-foot-9 man, I take slight offense to the idea that someone who is 6-foot-2 is small. Especially when the last decade has seen numerous quarterbacks, including Kyler Murray (5-foot-10) and Russell Wilson (5-foot-11), use their more diminutive stature to their advantage. It’s worth noting that Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson are all officially listed at 6-foot-2. Those four, along with Wilson, are usually listed among the sport’s top 10 quarterbacks for a reason — and it has nothing to do with if they can ride a roller coaster.
Suppose Corral’s 6-foot-2 frame is generous, and he’s actually closer to 6-foot-1. Although Baker Mayfield and Jalen Hurts are each listed at 6-foot-1, their issues aren’t height-related.
As for Corral’s durability, he had two ankle injuries in his final college season and has worried some with his aggressive running style. Although he suffered an ankle sprain in a Sugar Bowl loss to Baylor, he avoided serious injury (in other words, surgery) and should have no issues when he takes the field for rookie workouts this spring.
Should the Saints draft Corral?
The NFL draft is a crapshoot, which admittedly makes the pre-draft process both enjoyable and extremely irritating. Even when there’s a clear-cut No. 1 overall pick, it is remarkably difficult to predict who will go where. It’s why the most successful draft pundits only get roughly 10 of the first 32 picks correct each year.
At this point, we don’t know where Corral will be drafted. For all we know, he could be selected within the first five picks, or he could fall to the second round entirely.
Should the Saints select him if he’s still available with the 16th overall pick? Absolutely.
The Saints emerged as a consistent NFL threat because they had a franchise quarterback in Drew Brees. Could Winston be that player? Possibly. Will he? Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him atop the 2015 NFL Draft hoping so, and he threw 30 interceptions in his final season with the team. Although Winston looked sharp at times before tearing his ACL last season, we haven’t seen enough to suggest he’s the perfect fit as the Saints’ long-term quarterback.
Corral is a younger quarterback with an impressive arm and the ability to carve through defenses with his legs. The Saints won’t go far without a steady quarterback, especially with a rebuild looming, and new head coach Dennis Allen should strongly consider tying his future to Corral.
We’re all aboard the Corral-Saints train. Whether or not the team will have a chance at drafting him, though, is another conversation entirely.