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2022 NFL Draft

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral: Leadership, willingness to be vulnerable separate me from rest of QBs in 2022 NFL Draft

INDIANAPOLIS -- A hypercompetitive environment like the NFL Scouting Combine isn't typically fertile ground for draft prospects to openly discuss their vulnerability, but Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral was willing to do just that on Wednesday.

Corral will not be throwing or participating in any of the physical testing at the combine as he continues to recover from the high ankle sprain he suffered in the Sugar Bowl. He plans to be a full participant in Ole Miss' pro day on March 23.

"This has been my dream ever since I started playing football," he said. "I'm here with the best of the best. Now I'm not able to perform physically, but you know I definitely could show teams what I know mentally. It does absolutely kill me. I'm itching to get back out there."

Since he won't be taking the field at Lucas Oil Stadium when quarterbacks work out on Thursday, he's hoping to show teams in combine meetings that he has the intangibles to excel at the position. Corral pointed to his emotional intelligence as a unique trait that makes him stand out from the other players competing to be the first quarterback off the board when the draft gets underway in Las Vegas on April 28. Corral has been open about discussing his battle with depression.

"What really separates me is my ability to lead a team," he said. "I understand what it means to be vulnerable around people who don't necessarily want to be vulnerable. I was one of those guys who didn't want to talk about emotion. That's just how it was. ... If I was crying, I was like, 'stop crying.' I have two older brothers, and it was like a toughen-up type of thing.

"There were a lot of players who weren't necessarily comfortable with talking about their issues. Them seeing me be vulnerable made them feel more comfortable. Having that understanding of what I want to get out of this and what they want to get out of it and us being on the same page, that's a huge thing. Taking care of the life stuff, when that's taken care of, I feel like football takes care of itself. That's what we saw in '21. We weren't the best team or the most talented team, but we played the best together, and I think that was a big part of it."

Corral is ranked as the draft's No. 34 prospect by draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, behind both Pitt QB Kenny Pickett (No. 28) and Liberty QB Malik Willis (No. 32). A redshirt junior, Corral finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2021. He threw for 3,349 yards (67.9 percent completion rate), 20 touchdowns and five interceptions, and he also rushed for 11 TDs despite battling a lower-body injury for much of the season.

He will still be busy with team interviews this week, a big part of the evaluation process in Indy. Corral said he has had meetings with the Falcons, Panthers, Eagles, Steelers and Giants. He'll spend time with most, if not all, of the 32 teams before the process is over.

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