Last week’s NFL Combine brought in a slew of reports about players who met with the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the NFL Draft. One of the most exciting names among them is Kansas State Wildcats running back Deuce Vaughn.
Former K-State running back Deuce Vaughn in great spirits at the #NFLCombine. @kmbc— Jackson Kurtz (@jacksonKMBC9) March 4, 2023
Vaughn says he has informally met with the #chiefs and loves their scheme. pic.twitter.com/Vd8Lk50IXK
Here is what you need to know about the Big-12 standout:
Vaughn was a three-star recruit out of Cedar Ridge high school in Round Rock, Texas. In Manhattan, he appeared in 10 games as a true freshman. Right off the bat, he proved himself to be a dual offensive threat, rushing for 642 yards and adding another 434 yards
Even though he stands a mere 5’5” and weighs just 179 pounds, Vaughn was a two-time consensus All-American, finishing his three-year collegiate career with 4,884 yards from scrimmage and 43 touchdowns — averaging 6.4 yards per play.
Deuce Vaughn makes cuts sometimes that break my brain pic.twitter.com/37fiQcsHm5— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) February 25, 2023
Despite being the shortest player in Combine history, Vaughn is not afraid to run between the tackles. He possesses an agility (and sudden burst off his cuts) that is a bit reminiscent of another Kansas native: Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.
While it’s foolish to directly compare a draft prospect to an all-time great, Vaughn does demonstrate the ability to break ankles at the highest level. The biggest thing going against him will be his size — even former Olathe North standout (and fellow Wildcat) Darren Sproles was an inch taller — but Vaughn’s vision and elusiveness make him harder to tackle than you might imagine. For his size, he plays through contact very well.
Fun to watch: Kansas State RB Deuce Vaughn— Redshirt Heisman (@TasteOfSport) February 26, 2023
You want fun? Here’s a look at Deuce’s receiving stats through his 3yrs at KState:
1,043 yards after catch pic.twitter.com/1yJ1UCpfnH
Maybe more importantly, Vaughn is a plus receiver who is capable of running routes out of the backfield. He has very strong hands — and is not afraid to lay out to make a difficult catch. His athleticism makes him dangerous in the open field — something that is a must-have for any running back in Kansas City head coach Andy Reid’s system.
Deuce Vaughn may not be very big, but he loves to lead block— Kendell Hollowell (@KHollowell_) March 5, 2023
Another aspect of Vaughn’s game that will endear him to the Chiefs’ coaching staff is his willingness to do the dirty work: he will put his body on the line to block for his teammates. While he is small, he uses the size he has like a cannonball.
How he fits with the Chiefs
Reid has a long history of giving little guys (like Darwin Thompson, Dexter McCluster and De’Anthony Thomas) shots to prove themselves as running backs. While Vaughn is smaller than all of them, he may also prove to be more talented and dynamic. He would be an ideal change-of-pace and receiving back to complement Isiah Pacheco’s brutal running style. Still, Vaughn would likely be a liability in pass blocking. While he doesn’t lack strength or ability, he doesn’t have the mass to hold up against NFL pass rushers.
The bottom line
If he were five inches taller and weighed twenty pounds more, Vaughn would be Reid’s dream running back — but that doesn’t mean Reid won’t covet him. If Vaughn is available in the middle rounds, it would not be surprising to see Kansas City take a swing on him.