Every year, the most surprising players are the ones that came from small colleges. This year’s crop of small-school talent looks to be very promising and at least entertaining to talk about. The Buccaneers haven’t shied away from drafting these players, with selections like Ali Marpet, Alex Cappa, and Scotty Miller.
Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
HT: 6’4 WT: 201 lbs
Coaches will fall in love with his potential and leadership. He is a ball hawk, capturing 15 interceptions and 45 pass break-ups over a course of 46 games, and showed good technique. Being at a small school meant he was a leader and will contribute day 1 as a great locker room presence. McCollum also can play special teams as a gunner. If given time, McCollum could be a future starting corner. Look for McCollum to be taken on day three of the draft.
Tanner Connor, WR, Idaho State
HT: 6’2 WT: 240 lbs
Tanner Connor might have been made in a lab. The 6’2, 240 pound receiver ran a sub 4.40 during his pro day. Coming out of high school, Connor didn’t receive any football scholarships, but had a number of colleges wanting him to run track. When on his track and field visit with Idaho State, Conner asked if he could drop his football tape with the coaches. Two hours later, coaches pulled him to the side and gave him a full athletic scholarship for football. During his college career he tallied up nearly, 2400 yards and 15 touchdowns. If given the time, Connor could be a solid developmental player with high upside. Look for Conner to get a lot of attention late on day three.
Cole Strange, OL, Chattanooga
HT: 6’4 WT: 407 lbs
Cole Strange brings in an underdog mentality and chip on the shoulder attitude that is needed in lineman. He has an aggressive get off and is quick to use his hands to engage. He isn’t the strongest or fastest, but he is very polished, especially considering the level of competition he was paying against. Strange showed surprising power in the run game to move defenders, but will get beat with power in pass protection. He’s a four-year starter, who played at both tackle and guard. Strange is a very solid guard prospect who could become a starter, year one. Strange will most likely be off the board by the fourth round.
Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
HT: 6’3 WT: 243 lbs
Troy Anderson was recruited to Montana State to play running back, in 2018 he made the move to starting quarterback and had 1,200 passing yards and 1,400 rushing yards. In 2021, he was FCS National Defensive Player of the Year as a linebacker. This positional versatility is unlike any other, and coaches will definitely try to create packages for him to get in on offense.
Anderson was a dominant track star in high school, and it transitioned to football as he ran a 4.42 in the fourty. He lacks instincts as a linebacker, but that was never a worry because of how new he is to the position and how raw of an athlete he is. He is the closest thing to a positionless player we’ve ever seen, as he even showed snaps at safety in college. Troy Anderson is the most fun player in this draft, and he could exceed at multiple positions in the NFL. Anderson will be a day three selection by a team looking for a high quality developmental player.
Any of these small school players would be a great addition for the Buccaneers if taken at the right spot.
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