The 2022 NFL Draft is only a day away. Except for rare talent, such as Northern Iowa offensive lineman Trevor Penning this year, most small college football players fortunate to be drafted will hear their name on the second and third day of the draft.
The NFL dream is not over for those athletes that go undrafted. It has become more advantageous for the “fringe” draft prospects not to be drafted in the later rounds and instead sign as a priority free agent (PFA) with the team of their choosing.
The top prospect from the Texas small college ranks this year is Sam Houston cornerback Zyon McCollum. McCollum is projected to be drafted as early as the third round, with some draft boards projecting a fifth-round selection.
According to ESPN's position rankings, McCollum is the 10th best cornerback and the 14th best corner prospect in Dane Brugler’s 2022 NFL Draft Guide. Additionally, NFL Draft Diamonds has McCollum ranked as the fourth best overall prospect in the country from the small school ranks.
Zyon’s brother, Tristin McCollum, reportedly turned heads during his pro day and has become a target as a possible PFA.
Another Sam Houston product has been mentioned as a possible late round draft selection. However, according to Mel Kiper Jr, wide receiver, Jequez Ezzard may have a better chance at landing on a roster as a special teams player and is the fifth best returner in the draft.
Former Houston Baptist quarterback Bailey Zappe is projected as a fifth or sixth round draft selection. His 2.9-second average time to throw on dropback passes, excluding screens, run-pass option, or play action, was the quickest of any quarterback in this year’s draft class.
Several other players could sign as a free agent following the draft. This includes players from FCS, Division II, Division III, and NAIA.
These players are listed below beside their collegiate team. The position rankings are according to Dane Brugler’s 2022 NFL Draft guide and are listed in parenthesis after the athlete’s name.
Sam Houston (8) - Zyon McCollum (No. 14 CB); Jequez Ezzard (No. 5 KR, No. 41 WR); Colby Thomas (No. 42 C); Isaac Schley (No. 81 TE); Scean Mustin (No. 93 DL); Joseph Wallace (No. 110 DL); Jaylen Thomas (No. 193 CB); Tristin McCollum (No. 45 S).
Tarleton (6) - Tariq Bitson (No. 115 WR); Devin Hafford (No. 140 CB); Javy McDonald (No. 108 RB); Ronnell Wilson (No. 187 LB); Benjie Franklin (No. 58 CB); Tre Johnson (No. 121 CB).
UIW (5) - Kevin Brown (No. 54 RB); Trevor Begue (No. 80 WR); Brandon Bowen (No. 146 C); Akil Jones (No. 150 LB); Moses Reynolds (No. 142 CB).
Prairie View A&M (1) - Juwon Pass (No. 44 QB).
Stephen F. Austin (1) - Rayshad Nichols (No. 59 DL).
Angelo State (5) - Hunter Kyle (No. 164 LB); Braxton Webb (No. 69 OT); Devin Washington (No. 157 CB); Darrick Dickerson Jr. (No. 204 CB); Leddy French II (No. 143 S).
Texas A&M-Commerce (4) - Kader Kohou (No. 94 CB); Amon Simon (No. 84 OT); Dominion Ezinwa (No. 92 DL); Austin Smith (No. 184 LB).
Midwestern State (3) - Dallas Reins (No. 73 OT); Jaylon Abdul-Karim (No. 135 Edge); Malik Sonnier (No. 171 S).
Texas A&M-Kingsville (2) - Darrian Hambrick (No. 167 WR); Tevita Mounga (No. 106 DL).
West Texas A&M (2)- Jordan Johnson (No. 96 TE); Eric Collins (No. 175 LB).
UT Permian Basin (1) - Octavius Spencer (No. 172 S).
East Texas Baptist (1) - Caleb Eagans (No. 256 WR).
Howard Payne (1) - Jake Parker (No. 147 WR).
Mary Hardin-Baylor (1) - Jefferson Fritz (No. 158 S).
Texas Wesleyan (1) - Damien Francis (No. 184 CB).
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