One out of 1,923. That is where Sam Houston State’s Zyon McCollum ranks across all cornerbacks since 1987 in terms of their raw athletic score. In the pre-draft process, McCollum put up a perfect 10.0 RAS, setting the NFL world on fire as everyone is begging for this guy’s tape to check out if the athleticism could match up with the film. Well, we are going to do the same in this report. McCollum, a five-year starter with the Bearkats, comes in with never-ending hype, but only the film will tell us if said hype is warranted.
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Name: Zyon McCollum
Jersey: No. 22
School: Sam Houston State
Weight: 200 lbs
Games Watched: Montana State (2021), South Dakota State (Spring 2021), North Dakota (2019)
Major Injury History: None
Man Coverage (10.5/15)
Sam Houston State played a primary man coverage scheme that gave McCollum a ton of experience in this area. There are tons of inconsistencies in McCollum’s play here, but the tools are there. McCollum is a twitchy man corner. He has a great ability to flip his hips and mirror the route in off-man coverage. However, he barely played man coverage and was forced into the press a ton. Here, McCollum struggles. He constantly loses inside leverage but will mask any deep route until he loses a ball skills battle with the receiver. Even though he doesn’t have much experience, McCollum should be in an off-man system to start out in the NFL.
Zone Coverage (10.25/15)
With limited zone experience, this grade is all about projection. McCollum’s elite athleticism allows him to get to almost any ball in zone coverage. The length allows him to disrupt passing lanes, but he’s never made this much of an impact in zone coverage. McCollum does recognize who’s coming in and out of his zones, and you can sometimes see him point these guys out. He does well to read the receiver’s route and not just drop into a deep zone immediately. If McCollum continues to show similar positive traits on a more packed scale, then he can become a very good zone corner.
Being a five-year starter has allowed McCollum to gain some serious IQ points. Even in 2019, you can see him use his eyes to focus on the hips of the receiver to try and make the play. He has good recognition to stop on a dime in both press coverage, more specifically, off-man coverage. Where the negatives come are in the press. A big theme with McCollum is getting beat inside, and part of this is because he struggles to recognize the receiver shifting to the inside before it’s too late.
Ball Skills (5/10)
McCollum may just have the most inconsistent ball skills of any cornerback in this entire draft. In the Montana State game (which featured mostly go-routes from MSU), McCollum got beat deep so many times because he either failed to turn his head or did not high point the football. All the while, he had these routes locked up until the final point of execution. In 2019, McCollum’s ball skills were better than they were against Montana State. However, there were still a ton of negatives. In that North Dakota game, McCollum had a couple of great knockouts, including a textbook interception where he did, in fact, turn his head. Other times, McCollum was out-muscled at the catch point and allowed some tough receptions.
McCollum’s press coverage is by far his worst technique. Every single play McCollum is in press, he opens up with almost his entire body facing the boundary. This allows for receivers to make one jab upfield and then cut inside with ease. Even though McCollum has great agility and explosiveness, no human athlete will be able to recover to the inside from being so far outside (if the jab’s good enough). The positives come on the physicality side of things. McCollum, in off-man coverage, will fight the receiver to the inside. He’s not grabby by any means but just uses his strength to get right up in the receiver’s face and make a break on the football.
Long speed (9.5/10)
A 4.33 40-yard dash for someone who is 6-foot-2 says almost all you need to know about McCollum’s long speed. No one is going to sprint right by McCollum, especially the bigger receivers, which he projects to go up against at the next level. This is just one of McCollum’s elite abilities on the field, even when some traits are downright horrible.
Tackling/Run Support (8/10)
The 2021 game saw McCollum pitted up against a run-heavy Montana State team. What we learned from this is that McCollum has excellent closing speed and will completely shed off of the block and wrap up and wrestle down ball carriers, with only limited negatives to his tackling technique. The South Dakota State game featured almost the same, as McCollum was tasked with playing the boundary much more than anywhere else. In 2019, we saw McCollum get thrown all over the place. He lined up with tight ends in the box and even played some slot. In both instances, McCollum was able to create an impact against the run. This is a role that McCollum hasn’t played in a while, but something he could do in the league.
The first question you ask when you see a RAS so high is if that score is replicated on the film. For McCollum, it is. He has a great twitch, a very nice change of direction (when not putting himself in a bad position), and great explosiveness. The NFL organization that puts McCollum in the proper system allows him to break on the football in some five-yard off-man coverage and utilize his athleticism to what it can be, maybe getting an all-out superstar. McCollum is a generational athlete, one whose test numbers may stand at the top for quite some time
Zyon McCollum is a CB prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 10 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 1 out of 1923 CB from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/VQ0qXsv0ub #RAS pic.twitter.com/9LDEuqzqHq
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 1, 2022
Change of Direction (4/5)
The change of direction gets knocked a point because of the press technique. As we said before, McCollum will not be able to win inside by just flipping his hips in order to recover from how he plays press coverage. In that shorter type of off-man coverage we’ve been discussing throughout this report, McCollum will be able to move fluidly and shut down almost any route in any part of the field.
While McCollum was listed going into the NFL Combine as 6-foot-4, he measured in at 6-foot-2. Still, this is an absurd length for someone who moves so well. The only time McCollum does not use his length as he should is in the ball skills department. He needs to use the height he has to get to the ball up top and make a play. Otherwise, the length is obvious with McCollum and a big reason why teams are oozing with interest in the athletic corner.
As expected, McCollum’s tape differs from what he put out in the testing process. That doesn’t mean, though, that McCollum lacks the tools to become a great NFL cornerback. In fact, the raw potential here is so good that it will, most likely, raise McCollum two or three-rounds past where his talent actually projects he should go. Because of the testing, McCollum is being mocked as a solid Day 2 pickup. He has the film of a Day 3 guy, but that athleticism is far too much to pass upon. With time, McCollum can develop into one of the best Day 2 picks from this entire draft.
Rookie Projection: Rotational Cornerback
Third-Year Projection: Starting Cornerback
Player Grade (72.75/100): Fourth-Round Pick
Pro Comparison: Kevin King
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