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Ole Miss' Matt Corral: Sleeper QB Worth Watching for Texans?

Matt Corral out of Ole Miss might be the biggest riser come this offseason.

HOUSTON -- Until proven otherwise, Davis Mills is the future. The Houston Texans used its first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on the Stanford quarterback to be their now heir-apparent to Deshaun Watson. 

Fair or not, third-round picks generally come with a short leash. If Mills can't show progress by the season's end, Texans GM Nick Caserio must look early at adding a quarterback to jumpstart the franchise. 

Each year, a quarterback goes from middling pick to can't-miss gem. The Jets found theirs with BYU standout Zach Wilson. The year before, Joe Burrow was fresh of a national championship at LSU when selected by the Bengals. 

Before that? Josh Allen went from Wyoming nobody to Bills Mafia hero. 

This year, the Texans might need to take a hard look at Ole Miss' Matt Corral when evaluating quarterbacks. 

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Dane Brugler of The Athletic released his early summer evaluations on quarterbacks of the 2022 draft class. Naturally, North Carolina's Sam Howell and Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler came in at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. For No. 3? Corral cemented himself in the running for biggest riser. 

"Yes, it is somewhat broad, but Corral plays with a distinguishable smoothness that makes him very intriguing as a quarterback prospect," Brugler wrote.  "He plays the position with the tools of a shortstop — quick eyes, agile feet, rapid release. Corral has slightly above-average arm strength to drive the ball or deliver with touch and doesn’t allow small windows to intimidate him. He is the opposite of a stagnant player and his mobility is a key part of his skill set." 

A shortstop, you say? Quick out of his hand and on-point? Texans fans can get behind that. 

With a change of coaching in Oxford, Corral flourished in Lane Kiffin's more quick-hit style of play. The California native split reps with dual-threat runner John-Rhys Plumlee in 2019 but took over full-time last year. 

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There's no denying who was the better the player as Corral destroyed defenses every given Saturday in an all-SEC schedule. He finished the year with 3,337 passing yards and 29 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. 

In seven games, Corral surpassed 300 passing yards on the day, two of which were over 400 yards through the air. As for his interceptions, take away two bad games and he only three on the campaign. 

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Brugler credited the Rebels quarterback for his natural ability to connect downfield on accurate passes. Outside of three games, he averaged a completion rating of 77.4 percent. 

There's room for improvement, especially in decision-making. Corral doesn't often falter, but once he makes one mistake, the progression is rushed, leading to more turnovers and out of reach passes. 

Corral only finished with three games in which he was credited with a turnover. In all three, he suffered multiple ones. 

"Those turnovers were often a result in his inconsistent decision-making, forcing throws that simply were not there," Brugler wrote. "Corral can get away with some of his Mahomes like theatrics with the way he scrambles and adjust his throwing angles but he needs to cut down on the low percentage attempts."

It's still too soon to say if Houston will be in the market for a quarterback. Corral could regress, thus hurting his draft stock and making the hype nothing more than just thought of what could have been. 

His overall game though is what the NFL likes, with more play-action throws and consistent connections downfield. Houston has speed with Brandin Cooks on the perimeter. They also have size with the 6-foot-5 Nico Collins joining the squad. 

If Mills struggles. the Texans might be in start-over mode in 2022. Houston needs a new franchise quarterback, and while it's first things first for 2021, eventually? Corral could be the guy to bring them back to glory in the AFC.  

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