Tall, long, and fast, Sam Houston State Bearkats cornerback Zyon McCollum ticks all the aesthetic boxes as a CB prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. Furthermore, he’s been consistently one of the most productive ball hawks in the FCS during his five-year career. Does McCollum’s scouting report reveal a player who can take that skill set to the next level?
Zyon McCollum NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Sam Houston State
- Current Year: Super Senior
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 202 pounds
- Wingspan: 74″
- Arm: 31 1/8″
- Hand: 9 1/8″
Zyon McCollum Scouting Report
Although Sam Houston State has had (relatively) recent NFL Draft success with P.J. Hall’s selection in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the program hasn’t had a defensive back selected since Rickey Royal in 1989. In fact, the Bearkats had three DBs selected in the 1980s. Is McCollum about to add his name to that exclusive NFL Draft list?
- At 6’2″ and 202 pounds, McCollum possesses NFL requisite size. He’s also showcased impressive length to be impactful in coverage, measuring in with 31 1/8″ arms at the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
- McCollum has impressive ball skills. He attacks the ball at the catch point and can pluck the ball out of the air. His height helps in this regard, but an impressive athletic profile also aids him.
- With a high school recorded 4.40 40-yard dash, McCollum has demonstrated excellent athletic ability. This is apparent on tape, mirroring receivers down the length of the field.
- Additionally, McCollum can click and close with impressive quickness. He possesses a combination of football intelligence to read the game and athletic ability to react.
- In coverage, he showcases a low stance, the ability to stay low in his backpedal, and the ability to transition to a run with hip fluidity.
- Meanwhile, he’s a willing tackler who can play against the run with aggression.
- While he possesses requisite NFL size, McCollum could seek to add some muscle weight to his slender frame. He can play the game with aggression, but sometimes he could be more physical. This is evident mainly in the run game.
- Although McCollum showcases some impressive athletic ability, he can look stiff out on the field. You don’t always see suddenness or twitchiness in his movements, which will result in giving up easy separation in man coverage at the NFL level.
- While lauding his aggression, this can count against the Sam Houston State CB. He can be prone to missing tacklers as he flies around the field. He’ll need to take a more conservative, measured approach at the NFL to avoid allowing extra yardage with a failure to wrap up.
- In limited exposure, McCollum appeared to be restricted to playing man coverage, which would narrow down his potential NFL landing spots and eventual role with a team.
McCollum Player Profile
McCollum’s ascension as an NFL Draft prospect should be no surprise to anyone familiar with his football journey. Alongside twin brother Tristin McCollum, Zyon was a productive playmaker for Ball High School in Galveston, Texas. While he played safety, the twins would take advantage of their identical looks to switch positions in the secondary, confusing both coaches and opposition alike.
As a junior, McCollum earned second-team All-District 23-5A honors. The following season, he earned the same accolade again, while adding All-County, All-Academic, and team MVP honors to his résumé. Additionally, he exuded leadership as a team captain during his senior season.
As an FCS prospect, there’s an assumption that McCollum was unranked as a high school prospect. However, he was a three-star recruit who attracted offers from Tulane and Utah. The twins represented a package deal, and they both committed to the Utes prior to their senior season. As Tristin explained to Houstonian News, they would rescind their commitment in favor of Sam Houston State.
“Utah is very far away, and we knew that staying in Houston would be a huge plus. The way that the teams and coaches treated us played a huge factor in our decision. Sam Houston really, really wanted us, and we ultimately wanted to go to the team that was feeling us the most.”
McCollum’s career at Sam Houston State
Sam Houston State had seen firsthand what Zyon could bring to the table from an athletic standpoint. During a performance at a Bearkats camp, McCollum recorded a 4.40-second 40-yard dash and a 4.03-second shuttle. They’d soon see how that athletic ability would translate to the FCS football field in a devastatingly productive style.
McCollum showcased his disruptive ability with a sack on his debut against Richmond. While earning a reputation as a menacing presence in the backfield and against the run, his ball-hawking turnover tendencies came to the fore with his first career interception against Lamar. Following up with picks against North Dakota and Kennesaw State in the FCS Playoffs, he became the first Sam Houston true freshman with 3 interceptions since 1973.
McCollum’s freshman season set the tone for things to come. As a sophomore, he earned first-team All-Southland honors and sophomore All-American accolades following a season where he tallied a further 3 interceptions, 8 pass breakups, and another 40+ tackles in 11 starts.
Despite missing three games in his junior season, McCollum logged 3 interceptions for the third consecutive season. Furthermore, he secured his first career pick-six against Oklahoma Panhandle State. The playmaking Sam Houston State CB also produced a standout performance vs. UIW, tallying 5 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception.
McCollum’s NFL Draft ascension
With a wrist injury causing McCollum to miss time in 2019, he only achieved second-team All-Conference honors. However, he quickly remedied that in the disrupted 2021 spring season with first-team All-Southland honors and All-American accolades from HERO Sports. The Sam Houston State CB forced key fumbles against Northwestern State and Louisiana State, and he had an interception in the FCS semifinal win over James Madison.
As a result of Sam Houston’s national success in the spring season, McCollum started his final season with the Bearkats on the 2022 NFL Draft radar. As he continued to be a disruptive force — logging 3 interceptions for the fourth time in his career — the productive cornerback’s stock continued to rise.
After initially accepting an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl, McCollum also received an invite to the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl. Despite featuring in a talented defensive back group in Mobile, the Sam Houston State CB “showcased ball skills and closing ability in 1v1s,” as per Pro Football Network’s team on the ground. He was also described as having a nose for the football.
While college production isn’t the measure of success, McCollum’s 54 pass breakups that include 13 interceptions have caught the attention of NFL Draft analysts and scouts alike. It’s a case of come for the production, stay for the skill set. The Sam Houston State CB is my 123rd overall prospect. McCollum has a genuine chance of hearing his name called early on the third day of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Zyon McCollum
Positives: Large, athletic cornerback who must face the action. Physical, battles opponents throughout the action, and beats them down to defend passes. Moves well about the field, uses his size as an advantage, and plays big football. Displays terrific hands for the interception and consistently comes away with the big play. Fires up the field, squares into ball handlers, and brings opponents down in the open field.
Negatives: Must improve his backpedal. Cannot stay on the receiver’s hip out of breaks. Gives up a lot of underneath receptions. Does not play to his 40 time.
Analysis: McCollum is an aggressive defensive back with outstanding athletic testing numbers and upside potential. He struggles making plays with his back to the ball and staying with receivers laterally and really must face the action. McCollum is a zone cornerback who will also get looks at safety. But special teams and coverage units are where he will earn his wage at the next level.