The New York Giants have a plethora of needs heading into the 2023 offseason, and one of their biggest needs is for more weapons on offense.
Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn is going to be a polarizing player over the course of the draft process. On the one hand, he has been consistently productive, handled a very high volume of touches, and has a very diverse and versatile skill set.
However, he is also very undersized for any position at the NFL, and he won’t be for every team.
The Giants did an an excellent job of using players to their strengths and in unexpected ways. They could make good use of Vaughn, but how heavily will his stature weigh on his draft stock?
Games Played: 37
Yards (YPC): 3,604 (5.8 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 1,280 (11.0 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 43 (34 rushing / 9 receiving)
Games Played: 14
Yards (YPC): 1,558 (5.3 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 378 (9.0 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 12 (9 rushing / 3 receiving)
Best: Quickness, agility, acceleration, competitive toughness, receiving, blocking
Worst: Size, long speed
Projection: An important rotational running back or offensive weapon
Deuce Vaughn is an undersized but athletic and highly productive running back from Kansas State University.
Vaughn aligned in a variety of positions for the Wildcats’ offense, playing out of the shotgun, I-formation, the full house formation, the slot, and even as a wide receiver. Kansas State’s offense used him in man-gap runs with a fullback, in zone runs, and in read-option plays.
Vaughn has impressive quickness and agility, taking advantage of his naturally low center of gravity to suddenly change directions. He has solid vision as a ball carrier and is able to string moves together to avoid would-be tacklers as they fill gaps. Vaughn runs with great tempo behind the line of scrimmage, playing with patience to set up his blockers and pressing his run to the line of scrimmage before exploding in a new direction. He has great acceleration out of his cuts and is able to force missed tackles or break angles.
Vaughn has good contact balance and is able to run through stumbles or incidental contact. His balance, quickness, and agility can make him a difficult player to bring down at the second level and a big-play threat with a sliver of daylight.
Kansas State also frequently used him as a receiver, both out of the backfield and as a true receiver. He was often motioned from the backfield into the slot to create an empty backfield spread look. Vaughn is a very good receiver from all alignments. He runs crisp routes with a good feel for finding voids in coverage. He also has good ball skills, using his agility to make good adjustments to the ball downfield, and is a reliable “hands” catcher. While he is frequently used as a check-down option, Vaughn is also used as an intermediate and deep threat as well.
Vaughn has impressive competitive toughness. He is unafraid of contact as a ball carrier and blocks with an almost reckless abandon. He is very willing and consistently steps up to meet blockers, despite a significant size disadvantage. Vaughn makes good use of his natural leverage to maximize his play strength and is able to hold up to much bigger defenders – and failing that he’s an effective cut blocker.
While Vaughn has learned to use his size as an asset, it also works against him at times. He has solid contact balance, but he can struggle to survive direct hits from linebackers or even bigger DBs. Vaughn never shies away from contact or inside runs, but he is far from a “punishing” runner. Likewise, his size can limit him as a receiver, particularly in tight quarters. While he has good body control, his size severely limits his catch radius, and even undersized defensive backs are able to out-reach him. Hand size will also be a question for teams. He has soft, reliable hands but he also fumbled twice on the tape viewed.
He can also have moments of questionable vision or decision making as a runner. There were instances where Vaughn ran into his own blocker or missed defenders coming up to fill his chosen gap.
Overall Grade: 7.4
Deuce Vaughn projects best as a rotational running back at the NFL level.
Vaughn will not be for every team. He will almost certainly come in below some teams’ thresholds and not even make their big board. He is a productive and very versatile player in college, but will need to land in the correct system to be more than a curiosity at the NFL level.
His ideal role would be as a rotational running back and “offensive weapon” for an innovative offensive mind. Vaughn is a tough and elusive runner who can maximize a zone blocking scheme and give defenders headaches. Likewise, his ability as a pass protector will appeal to offenses that lean on the pass. Vaughn could shine, however, as an “Offensive Weapon”. He is extremely versatile and is perfectly capable of lining up as a slot or wide receiver and winning with his route running. His quickness, agility, and acceleration allow him to separate out of his breaks, and he uses excellent body control and ball skills at the catch point.
Vaughn was a high-volume runner and receiver for Kansas State. He might have an uphill battle finding the field in the NFL, but he has a rare skill set that could make him a dangerous weapon in the right offense.