When will the Carolina Panthers feel confident enough about throwing quarterback Matt Corral into a starting role in 2022?
Amid all the speculation linking the Carolina Panthers with another bold veteran quarterback trade, the presence of Matt Corral seems to be going relatively overlooked. The Ole Miss product was the top signal-caller on the team’s board after standing out during the evaluation process, with those in power striking with conviction to move up and select him at No. 94 overall.
Corral had the best college production against some legitimate competition of any quarterback entering the NFL this year. His poise, rapid-fire release, and mobility in the pocket are all standout features of his game, but the Panthers are keen to temper expectations about what he could potentially do right out of the gate.
There is a real urgency among fans for Corral to pick things up quickly. Moving forward with Sam Darnold once again isn’t filling anybody with optimism, which is why rumors continue to swirl about a swoop for someone like Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo.
This would certainly take the pressure off Corral, to a certain extent. Nobody is expecting the third-round pick to immediately transform the franchise, which was echoed by Matt Rhule’s recent statements about a significant amount of work ahead for the player in training camp.
It would be wise for the Panthers to give Corral some time under center as a rookie. Much will depend on how Darnold performs behind a better offensive line, but seeing what they have in their latest college recruit will provide them with a broader indication about what’s needed next offseason.
Matt Corral is projected to make his first Carolina Panthers start in Week 10
The topic was recently discussed by Josh Edwards of CBS Sports, who projected Corral could be under center by Week 10 against the Atlanta Falcons providing there are no complications with his development in the meantime.
"“Based on the current roster, head coach Matt Rhule would probably insert Corral in Week 10 against the Falcons. It is difficult to envision owner David Tepper stomaching another full year of Sam Darnold under center. The team would have three games from the Ole Miss rookie to evaluate before the bye, which would then give them an opportunity to learn how he adapts in-season.”"
This does make sense. Although it would also suggest that things haven’t gone according to plan where Darnold is concerned for the second-straight year.
If such a scenario came to fruition, it would also provide Corral with the bye week to further familiarize himself with the system and develop chemistry with his primary pass-catchers. This could make all the difference ahead of what appears to be a brutal end to the campaign.
Of course, there is an elephant in the room.
Should the Panthers pull the trigger on Mayfield, then it completely shifts the landscape.
Carolina’s quest for an instant upgrade has been unsuccessful so far this offseason. If Mayfield did end up coming on board, Corral might sit out his entire rookie year.
That would complicate matters – especially if the Panthers are picking high once again in 2023. Next year’s quarterback class is projected to be one of the best ever, so Scott Fitterer and other influential figures won’t hesitate to take one if they feel it’s the right thing to do.
Just where that would leave Corral is anyone’s guess. But the signal-caller should put all this to the back of his mind and focus on improving gradually in the weeks and months to come.