Scouting Report: Dustin Vaughan, QB, West Texas A & M
A deep sleeper with plenty of upside
I got an e-mail yesterday from one of our more loyal readers asking why we’re doing all these high-profile players this year. I responded that there’s a lot more year left and that we’ll be breaking out plenty of our usual deep sleepers like we always do. In fact, there may be no better sleeper in the 2014 draft class than West Texas A & M’s Dustin Vaughan.
Coming out of Division II, the tall Texan is not a strong candidate to play right away like some of the elite options. That being said, we like his long term ceiling enough to suggest that he should be drafted at some point, rather than being a UDFA. We think he compares favorably to a guy like Tyler Bray, who was a high priority UDFA for Kansas City in 2013.
For those folks infatuated with Blake Bortles, we think you might get better value by waiting and taking a guy like Vaughan, who gives you a lot of the things Bortles does and with a better arm. And, yes Bortles fans, we understand fully that the UCF product is the more mobile and athletic player. We’ll be covering him in a soon-to-be-released report. Just don’t kid yourself into thinking that Bortles spins the ball as well as Vaughan does.
Don’t let the fact that he is under-the-radar fool you. Vaughan has NFL ability and can play in the league if he can find the right situation. This is one of those kids who could actually benefit from NOT being drafted. That could allow him to pick a team with a relatively weak depth chart, like the Jets, who have nothing of substance behind Geno Smith, who is far from a strength himself.
So what makes Dustin a potential NFL commodity?
- Size - As we keep hearing, size is something NFL GMs covet at the most important position. Vaughan has prototypical size. He looks like he’ll end up playing at about 230 pounds or more once he’s been in an NFL program for a year or so. He stands tall in the pocket at 6’5” and is well built for a pocket passer.
- Arm - I’ve got limited footage to go on with Vaughn, but his arm strength is easy to see. He can make all the throws with plenty of arm to spare. He could use some refinement here and there, but Dustin has an abundance of arm talent. We’re sold.
- Accuracy - On film, he looks accurate enough. A look at his stats indicates a player who is improving. His completion percentage got better each year he was at West Texas and he topped out at 66.2 percent his senior year. Vaughan also avoided interceptions effectively over the course of his career, posting 123 touchdown passes to only 29 career picks.
- Pocket presence - Regular Rotobahn readers might remember how much we liked Russell Wilson’s on-field demeanor from his days at Wisconsin. He was as calm, cool and collected as any college QB we’ve ever scouted. Totally unflappable. That assessment has proven to be accurate, and I see some of the same things in Vaughan. Not to go overboard, and we had a lot more film on Wilson, but we like what we see so far from Vaughan.
- Intangibles - Dustin’s smart on the field and off the field as well. He was the Division II Football Academic All-American of the Year in 2012. In Division I, that honor has been won by Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Chad Pennington and Drew Brees--four extremely cerebral quarterbacks. It’s certainly a positive in the sense that Vaughan is a committed student and learns well.
Here’s the best look we can offer at Vaughan right now. It’s the only decent embeddable footage I’ve been able to find so far.
You can see the arm strength and fluidity. I’d like to see him get his elbow up more consistently and come over the top a bit more, especially when he’s in the pocket. You can get away with these things in Division II, especially when you are as tall as Vaughan. This is certainly an area he can improve on over time and it’s not a major adjustment for a guy like Vaughan, who is a very natural thrower.
For all those fans who root for teams with quarterback problems, this is definitely a player to watch. This is especially true for teams like the Jets, Bengals and Cardinals, who lack a top QB and also lack a premium draft pick in 2014. We think that Vaughan is one of the most appealing projects out there at the quarterback position. Vaughan did get a Combine invite, and we look forward to getting a closer look at him in a few weeks when we travel to Indianapolis.
For fantasy footballers, this is a player to remember. If he gets drafted by the right team, he could be a late target in large dynasty drafts. Lastly, we always like a kid with a sense of humor.
This scouting report will be updated after the Combine.
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