The Cowboys tugged at our heartstrings during the 2023 NFL Draft when Deuce Vaughn became the team’s fifth-round selection. What made this pick so special is the fact that Vaughn’s father, an employee within the Dallas organization, made the call to his son. Now, the Kansas State product is making waves in training camp.
Could Deuce Vaughn carve out a key role with the Cowboys in 2023?
Vaughn recorded 2,970 rushing yards the past two seasons as the primary ball carrier for the Wildcats. He forced a whopping 107 missed tackles in that span, showcasing his trademark elusiveness in space. The 5-foot-5 spark plug even makes noise in the red zone, logging 27 touchdowns in his final 27 games on campus.
He is equally as much of a threat in the passing game. On 92 receptions since 2021, Vaughn recorded 841 yards and seven more touchdowns. Simply put, the Cowboys found a potential gem on Day 3 of the draft — even if Twitter likes to crack a joke at his size.
Vaughn does look like a child amongst men when he’s running between tackles, but his shifty ability and insane first step demands the respect of opposing defenders. He is nearly impossible to corral in space and once he gains a step, opponents are frequently left in his dust.
Incumbent starter Tony Pollard signed the franchise tag tender with the intention of serving as the Cowboys’ RB1 in 2023. However, the former Memphis standout is still regaining form after suffering a devastating season-ending injury late last season. Pollard is taking training camp reps, which is a positive sign, but the depth behind him could be imperative early on.
Malik Davis, Rico Dowdle, and Ronald Jones all have a chance at claiming a roster spot and serving as a relief for Pollard. But none of those names hold a candle to the upside Vaughn brings. As a runner, his size and explosiveness allows the young ball carrier to “get skinny” as the blocks unfold. Once Vaughn sees a crease, he plants his foot and is gone.
From a pass-catching standpoint, Vaughn could be a premier player from the jump. He boasts reliable hands, proficient route running, and otherworldly YAC ability with the ball in his hands. Given the weapons at Dak Prescott’s disposal, including Vaughn, the eighth-year quarterback could be in line for the best season of his career.
Pollard is “the guy” if healthy; nothing is changing that. But Deuce Vaughn can quickly become a go-to target for Prescott in the passing game and provides an ideal one-two punch with Pollard on the ground. It wouldn’t be the most physically imposing duo from a size standpoint, but few backfields would possess the sheer talent of the one in Dallas.