CHARLOTTE (BVM) – Matt Corral has started training camp with the Carolina Panthers, donning a red jersey along with Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. Corral is currently the third quarterback on the depth chart, but that isn’t discouraging the rookie from going after the starting spot.
“I’m going to try and compete and get the starting job,” Corral told reporters at training camp. “Whatever that takes, I’m going to do. Wherever the cards fall, they fall.”
Carolina traded a third-round and a fourth-round pick to select Corral in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft. The Panthers already had former first-round pick Sam Darnold, but after a shaky first year and poor stats in Carolina, Corral was drafted as a possible replacement for Darnold. Then, on July 6, GM Scott Fitterer traded for Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield, adding another former first-round pick into the quarterback room.
“We all want to be the guy,” Corral said. “You go to any quarterback room, everybody wants to be the guy. It’s all about competing and making each other better.”
The competition is welcomed by the Rebels’ quarterback. Corral told reporters that he felt he “took the easy way” by going to Ole Miss. He went on to say that he felt he could play right away for the Rebels and if he could do it over, he would have chosen a place that made him compete.
The former four-star quarterback recruit had been committed to USC and Florida before deciding on wearing a Rebels jersey. He then redshirted his freshman year before playing 10 games his redshirt freshman year, and being the starter for Ole Miss as a redshirt sophomore and junior.
Corral quickly reached out to his former Rebels coach Lane Kiffin to explain his comments and to tell Kiffin he misspoke.
“Matt immediately texted me after that to say that’s not what he meant by it,” Kiffin said on ‘First Take’. “And that he actually was in a competition here. He’s a rookie in the NFL. He’s not going to say everything right and he’s not going to throw everything right. Especially in his first year. I’m sure he’d take that back. We’re in the time where there’s not much going on in the media. So, like I told him, it’s a run for 48 hours. No one will even remember it.”
Based on Corral’s stats at Ole Miss, the idea that he would go back and change his decision to be a Rebel is hard to believe.
Last season, Corral threw for 3,349 yards and 20 touchdowns while also rushing for 614 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those stats helped Ole Miss to a 10-3 record and had many believing Corral would be a first-round draft selection.
His junior season also solidified him as one of the best quarterbacks to wear a Rebels jersey, a group that includes both Archie and Eli Manning. Corral’s career stats have him third all-time in passing yards for Ole Miss, third in passing touchdowns and top-10 in both quarterback rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
However, Corral didn’t go in the first round of the draft, putting an extra chip on his shoulder. Which meant that once he put on a Panthers’ jersey, he was going to be out there to earn the starting spot, even if Carolina added Mayfield to their QB room to give the rookie time to develop.
“He’s been very clear to me that’s not his approach,” Carolina Panther head coach Matt Rhule said on Corral not wanting to take time to develop and going for the starting position right away.
Corral has confirmed that through his words and actions. He has worked hard to come back from an ankle injury he suffered in the Sugar Bowl, has been the first Panther out on the field for training camp and is learning as much as he can from his fellow quarterbacks.
“There is definitely a lot to learn, and I know this is a process,” Corral said to reporters. “It’s all about the longevity of getting a job. I’m in a rush, but I’m not, if that makes sense.”
He wouldn’t be the first third-round-selected quarterback to win a starting spot his rookie season. Russell Wilson did it for the Seahawks, beating out Matt Flynn, and ended up taking them to the Super Bowl. Corral will have to beat both Mayfield and Darnold, but he wants the competition.