Chris Vaughn had no idea what was going on when Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones ordered him to give up the team’s card for the sixth-round selection. After all, the selections are now computerized.
Vaughn recognized the club was set to take his son, Deuce, a running back out of Kansas State, at No. 212 overall on Saturday when his teammates rose up around the draft room and Jones symbolically threw him a napkin as if it were the card.
Vaughn, the Cowboys’ associate director of college scouting, was given the honor of informing Deuce.
“Look here, man, do you want to come to work with me next week?” Vaughn, his voice shaking, questioned his son from the team’s selection room on camera.
“I wouldn’t mind doing that at all,” Deuce said.
As the team’s owner and general manager, Jones has participated in over 30 drafts. He has presided over a number of high-level deals and No. 1 overall choices.
“I’ve never had anything like that happen in the draft room.” “Never,” Jones said.
“In 30 years of this league, I’ve never seen anything like that,” said head coach Mike McCarthy. That was a truly unique moment.”
Vaughn, who has been with the Cowboys since 2017, did not write a report on his kid before the selection. He fled when the Cowboys mentioned him in their meetings. He didn’t want to have any say in the matter. Vaughn was beginning to oversee the Cowboys’ undrafted free agent process just before the draft began, and he was not in the draft room.
His son beckoned him in a side corridor, and he could see the disappointment of not being chosen was beginning to impact Deuce. Chris pushed the scout in him aside and became a parent, motivating his kid.
When Chris returned to the draft room, Jones, McCarthy, executive vice president Stephen Jones, and vice President of player personnel Will McClay had decided on Deuce as the pick, but Jerry Jones was still discussing other options.
“It was like a joke that everybody was in on except for me,” Chris said.
And the emotions flowed once more.
“For me, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been involved in,” McClay added. “Just having a guy that we value so much as an employee and the work that he does, and then having so much positive said about his son, and then watching the tape and seeing just how impactful he will be on the field, and then having that moment to share that because it’s all about family.” When you speak about the Cowboys, you talk about football, you talk about anything but family.”
Deuce was in Austin, Texas, with his mother, sisters, and 50-60 other relatives and friends, watching the draft and hoping for his opportunity. He viewed the draft room footage involving his father right away.
“Over the past 21 years of my life, and to see him react the way that he did, I’m not going to lie,” Deuce remarked. “It was a real tearjerker.”
Deuce said that he never asked his father what the Cowboys thought of him.
“I wanted it to happen organically,” he said. “I wanted things to just fall into place. And the main thing we’ve been saying to each other for the last two weeks is that I simply needed a chance. It didn’t matter which round it was. It didn’t matter what option you choose. All I needed was a chance, a foot in the door. It’s incredible that it’s in Dallas.”
Deuce rushed for 3,604 yards and 34 touchdowns while catching 1,280 yards in three years at Kansas State. He topped the FBS in all-purpose yards in 2022 with 1,936. In the Sugar Bowl, he had 133 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown against Alabama. His stature, at 5-foot-5 and 179 pounds, was a turnoff for several organizations.
“You watch him run through Alabama’s defense, breaking ankles and doing things that he did, he’ll make a believer out of you in a hurry,” Stephen Jones said.
The Cowboys have Tony Pollard at running back, who was chosen to the Pro Bowl last year and is now on the franchise tag after suffering a broken ankle in the playoff defeat to the San Francisco 49ers. Ronald Jones was signed as an unrestricted free agent, and they also have Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle. Jerry Jones said that he would not rule out the possibility of bringing back Ezekiel Elliott, who was dismissed by the club in March.
“I think clearly, Deuce can play the normal flow of our offense, first and second down,” McCarthy said. “I think we have to work together on the protection component, but there are some very distinct situational thoughts and concepts that I have in mind early on.” I’ve done Randall Cobb-esque stuff in the past. Yes, we will have opportunities for him to capitalize on his productivity. He’s a dynamic player, I mean.”
It’s something his father has suspected for quite some time.
“The ability to make plays in different ways.” “I’ll say it again with my evaluator hat on,” Chris added. “He can make plays in a variety of ways.” He has proven this. You don’t have to play him any differently since he’s a smaller person, in my opinion.
Instead of constantly utilizing him in space, his best runs were inside, downhill runs. When I say that, I’m not attempting to be the coach, but what I’m saying is that he’ll come with all he’s got.”
And the phone call will stay with him.
“That’s the best one I’ve ever made,” Chris said, his voice breaking once again. “I told someone he’s the hardest worker I know; I just happen to be his father.” It’s great to know that our league is made up of people like that. You can’t put a measurement on these folks. He’s always been that way. I anticipate him to be that when he gets his chance, which he has earned as a player by just doing things the correct way.”