This was an important game for the draft grade of Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, currently the consensus top quarterback prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft. He didn't play poorly against Alabama, but he was overmatched and the Crimson Tide dominated the time of possession.
On the first drive, Corral threw a rope for a first down and then used his feet to dodge a sack and scramble ahead for a gain of about six or seven yards. Later in the drive, he did a good job of throwing a pass away to avoid a sack and take a negative play. The drive stalled out on a fourth down near the end zone that was stopped, and that set the tone for the first half. Ole Miss struggled to extend drives and produce points, with three Ole Miss drives ending via fourth-down stops for turnovers on downs.
The one big mistake that Corral had was late in the second quarter when he held the ball a bit long, and Alabama defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis got by the right tackle to get a strip-sack as Corral was rearing back to pass.
Corral had an impressive play in the third quarter, dodging a sack and then throwing a bomb to the end zone, but his receiver dropped the pass on what should have been a long touchdown from an amazing throw. Corral shrugged it off and moved the ball before taking off on a 10-yard touchdown run. In garbage time, he threw another short touchdown pass.
Against Alabama, Corral completed 21-of-29 for 213 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score. The Rebels receivers dropped a number of passes which hurt their quarterback. Overall, Corral didn't harn his draft stock versus Alabama. He showed off his strong arm, his mobility, some field vision, and improved decision making compared to 2020. Corral might end up being the only quarterback who grades out as a top-10 pick for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Alabama moved junior Evan Neal from right tackle to the left side for the 2021 season now that Alex Leatherwood is in the NFL. The 6-foot-7, 350-pound Neal is a massive blocker who is tough in the ground game and moves well for his size. As a freshman in 2019, Neal played guard, and then last year, he was the starting right tackle. He had an excellent sophomore season, with the one exception being the SEC Championship Game when Florida's fast edge rushers had a good game against Neal. He had lot of problems keeping them out of the backfield. That happened again in Week 3 of this season when the Gators edge rushers gave Neal more problems. Ole Miss has a dangerous edge defender in lineman Sam Williams, so it would be interesting to see how Neal handled Williams in this game.
Neal won throughout the first half, giving Bryce Young plenty of time to throw and generating a push in the ground game. Williams limped off the field in the second quarter, and on the next play, Alabama went behind Neal for a goal-line touchdown after he blasted open the hole. The Crimson Tide repeated the same play with the same result at the end of the first half, and later on, Neal paved the way for another Brian Robinson touchdown. Williams would return to the game and notched a sack on a play when he went unblocked, but Neal had some wins against Williams in pass protection.
Overall, this tape will help Neal. A pro team could get away with him at left tackle, but he is a better fit at right tackle for the NFL. He has shocking speed and athleticism for such a massive blocker, but his feet can sometimes get stuck in the ground, allowing speed rushers to work upfield while he's not getting depth in his drop. That could be a problem as a blind-side protector in the NFL. Neal, however, is an absolute bull in the ground game, helping him roll defenders and create movement at the point of attack. Hence, he could be a very good right tackle. Neal looks like a future top-20 pick.