TAMPA — Zyon McCollum knew he had a chance to make a fast impression on the Bucs before the NFL draft.
The Sam Houston State defensive back said the Bucs told him at the scouting combine in Indianapolis that if he ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash they would draft him.
At 6-foot-2, 199 pounds, McCollum ran a 4.33 (sixth-fastest of all players) and also had a 39.5-inch vertical leap.
“After the combine ... I texted my agent and said, ‘Zyon McCollum is going to be a Buccaneer,’” McCollum said.
It happened Saturday when the Bucs traded back up into the fifth round to select McCollum.
In order to nab him at No. 157 overall, the Bucs sent their fourth-round pick in 2023 to Jacksonville and received a seventh-rounder (No. 235) in return.
But don’t just get caught up in his measurables. McCollum can play, recording 13 career interceptions for the Bearkats.
According to Kent Lee Platte, inventor of the Relative Athletic Score (RAS) — which combines various metrics like height, weight, 40 time and places them on a scale from 0-10 — McCollum graded out with a perfect 10/10. That ranks him first among the 2,001 cornerback prospects graded from 1987-2022.
McCollum attended Ball High School in Galveston, Texas, just like Bucs receiver Mike Evans.
“(Evans) is the type of player who paved the way for me coming out of Ball High,” McCollum said. ”...He comes back to the school all the time, he throws a bunch of youth camps, plays pickup basketball with some of the students and everything. So just seeing him around Ball High, and then seeing his production and what he’s been able to do ever since he got put in the league, it’s always been an inspiration.
“The fact that me, a proud Ball High alum now gets to be connected with a seasoned veteran who also went to Ball High, that’s pretty surreal.”
Evans and McCollum exchanged tweets shortly after he was drafted.
McCollum’s twin brother, Tristin, is also in this draft class as a safety; he played with Zyon at Sam Houston State for the past five years.
The Bucs struggled in kick coverage last season. McCollum should provide immediate help on special teams.
But he’s not putting any limitations on himself as a rookie.
“I’m going to bring just selflessness and character and integrity for one; not even talking about football things,” McCollum said. “...I watch a ton of film and I pick up on things really fast. So just being able to speak football, just talk football with everybody, communicate on the field, kind of bring the group closer together because you can go far alone, but you can go farther together.
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“...I want to be somebody who contributes from Day 1, whether it’s special teams or on defense. And I think that competitive edge in me, just being relentless and going all out, I think a lot of people feed off that.”
And finally ...
The Bucs bolstered their defense with their final pick of the draft (248th overall), selecting LSU edge rusher Andre Anthony. Anthony had a season-ending injury after just three games last year, but still managed to record 3.5 sacks and eight tackles. At 6-4, 251 pounds, Anthony will compete at outside linebacker.
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