The Cleveland Browns have the NFL’s best running back in Nick Chubb.
The Browns also have second-year running back Jerome Ford, who the team is banking on to claim the backup role that Kareem Hunt held for the past four seasons.
After that, well, things get a bit dodgy as the trio of Demetric Felton Jr., John Kelly Jr. and Nate McCrary have combined for 331 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns at the NFL level.
It is safe to say that come the third day of the 2023 NFL Draft, general manager Andrew Berry may be keen on a running back who had almost 4,900 yards from scrimmage and 43 touchdowns during his college career - if there was not one small question mark about the player.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn.
Deuce Vaughn - Dion Lewis / James White pic.twitter.com/SAO51LZl1l— Murph (@TMurph207) April 12, 2023
Name: Deuce Vaughn
Position: Running back
Height/Weight: 5-foot-5, 179 pounds
College: Kansas State Wildcats
Stats (4 seasons): 37 games, 34 starts, 3,604 rushing yards, 5.5 yards per carry, 34 rushing touchdowns, 116 receptions, 1,280 receiving yards, 9 receiving touchdowns
Relative Athletic Score
Average “Big Board” Position As of Publishing Date
142nd overall (NFL Mock Draft Database)
The Draft Network’s Grade/Round Value
TDN Consensus Grade: 69.5/100 (Sixth-Round Value)
PFF Big Board Rank: 122
What an Expert is Saying
Deuce Vaughn in open space is so unfair— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 3, 2022
Pros and Cons
The Browns are set with Chubb, the game’s best running back, as the starter and are expecting good things from Ford as Chubb’s backup.
The club can use a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, however, as it appears unlikely that Hunt will be back and Vaughn could fill that role, as The Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez points out:
As a receiver out of the backfield, Vaughn is versatile enough to catch swing passes, angle routes, and wheel routes, taking advantage of second-level defenders who don’t have the change of direction or foot speed to run with him. Catching the ball out of the backfield is another element of Vaughn’s game that makes him an all-purpose back.
One major aspect holding Vaughn back is his size, which is incredibly small by NFL standards, as The Athletic’s Dane Brugler highlights in his draft guide:
Overall, Vaughn’s size limitations show up in all phases (running, receiving, blocking) and will diminish his NFL role, but he maximizes every ounce of his talent with the playmaking sparks that will occasionally create a wildfire. He projects best as a rotational satellite back in the NFL who will be at his best in space.
Browns Player Drafting Could Impact
The player at the top of the list would likely be running back Demetric Felton Jr., who has yet to find a consistent role in his two seasons with the Browns. Felton was seen as a pass-catching threat but only has 20 receptions for 189 yards so far, with all but two of those catches and eight of those yards coming in his rookie season.
Low to Medium: The Browns could try to get by for another year with Ford, Felton and Kelly as the running backs behind Chubb, but that group is limited when it comes to catching the ball. That might not be as much of an issue with a rebuilt wide receiver room, but it is still nice to have someone who can be an asset out of the backfield in the passing game.
Vaughn fits that bill nicely, especially as a later selection on day three of the draft, but it is hard to look past his size. Felton is currently the smallest running back on Cleveland’s roster, and he has four inches and 10 pounds on Vaughn.
Still, Vaughn has found a way to be successful despite his size limitations, and landing on a team with a running back like Chubb already in place to carry the load could be an ideal situation for Vaughn to showcase his talents.