The Carolina Panthers sent shockwaves around the NFL jungle when they acquired former No. 1 overall pick quarterback Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns for a conditional Day 3 pick. This sets up what the Panthers want to call an “open competition” between Mayfield and Sam Darnold, although there are a couple of other quarterbacks in the fold, including rookie Matt Corral.
The former Ole Miss signal-caller was one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 draft class, and someone seen as the future of the franchise. However, it appears the future is not right now. During Tuesday’s press conference, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said that adding a quarterback like Mayfield at this juncture could actually help Corral.
“The one good thing for Matt, there is a transition for him from a college offense he was in to an NFL offense, especially a (Ben) McAdoo offense, where there’s a lot of verbiage,” Fitterer said, via the Panthers official website. “This will allow him the chance to really learn at his own pace, learn from a couple of veterans in that room in Sam and Baker, and having PJ (Walker) in that room as well.
“And when it’s time for him to get out there and play, he can get out there and earn that job if he’s ready. But it’s going to be on him to learn and play well when he gets there. Right now, our focus is to get all of our quarterbacks up to speed so we can play good quality football at that position.”
According to The Charlotte Observer, the Panthers were in contact with Corral and let him know about the looming Mayfield deal. They also reportedly assured Corral that he is still the future. Carolina adding another quarterback does not mean that there’s zero chance Corral will see the field in 2022, but it does mean he won’t be forced to play too early.
Playing too early is real thing for young quarterbacks. In fact, Panthers wide receiver Robbie Anderson said recently that he believes Darnold was thrown into the fire too early with the New York Jets. He pointed to the fact that star quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson did not play immediately at the next level.
Corral ended his career with the third-highest career completion percentage in the SEC since 1956. He is also just one of five college quarterbacks since 2000 to register a 3,300-plus passing yard campaign while throwing five or fewer interceptions and rushing for double-digit touchdowns. Carolina sees incredible potential in Corral, but the Panthers will not put the 23-year-old out there before he’s ready.