Dallas Cowboys: Should Quarterback Dustin Vaughan Be 2nd String?
Heading into his second season as a professional football quarterback, is it time to question whether or not 2014 third string quarterback Dustin Vaughan should go ahead and move up to the primary backup role for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015?
At least I think it is. I’ll also make an argument for that decision.
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To start with, let’s consider the odds that owner and general manger Jerry Jones actually selects a quarterback in the upcoming ’15 NFL draft at the end of this month.
We know that Jones won’t select a quarterback in the first round. He’s done this only once, and it happened to be his first ever selection as an NFL GM. Troy Aikman obviously set a pretty good tone for the position back in 1989 – but he’s been far and away the best guy ever drafted by Jones at the position.
In fact, it really stuns me to think that Dallas, as a franchise, has only selected two first-round quarterbacks in it’s illustrious history: Aikman and Craig Morton way, way back in 1965.
Beyond Aikman, a Hall of Fame passer who led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins some two decades ago, the quarterback selections by Jones in the draft are pretty much meaningless.
There was Quincy Carter, a dramatic second-round reach out of University of Georgia in 2001. Aikman’s unexpected release following a 5-11 2000 regular season made this selection happen. The results were underwhelming, to put it mildly.
After Carter, only 2009 fourth-round pick Stephen McGee from Texas A&M was actually drafted, presumably an aspiring backup to current starter Tony Romo, who was already a Pro Bowl performer and the undisputed face of the franchise.
Yip, that’s about it.
There was the 2007 selection of University of Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback in the fourth round, but he was drafted to play wide receiver, so he doesn’t really count.
Bill Musgrave, another fourth-rounder and chosen out of University of Oregon, was released before training camp ended during his rookie year of 1991 – like he was ever going to push Aikman for the starting job, right?
I’m ignoring the completely stupid selection of University of Miami’s Steve Walsh in the 1991 supplemental draft, a move that actually cost the Cowboys the first-overall selection in the 1990 NFL Draft – no, not everything Jimmy Johnson touched turned into gold.
So, don’t place any bets that Dallas prioritizes the quarterback position later this month in Chicago, regardless of how old Romo is or what kind of shape his body is in moving forward.
The main reason for this unlikely focus might be the presence of Vaughan.
Getting back to the main point, Vaughan might very well be “new Romo,” at least if we’re talking about undrafted quarterbacks that have the opportunity to grow in the NFL for a few years before taking over the position at a later date.
It’s a pretty safe bet that current backup Brandon Weeden, a then 27-year old first-round selection by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 NFL Draft, is not the future in Dallas – he’s 31 now, just in case you’re not counting.
Vaughan just turned 24-years old about two weeks after wide receiver Dez Bryant‘s “no catch” in Green Bay ended Cowboys playoff hopes for Super Bowl XLIX.
Vaughan’s overall performance at West Texas A&M University was stellar, especially during his senior year of 2013.
But his first start in the college ranks might have been prophetic. That came in 2011 at the venue then known as Cowboys Stadium and resulted in a 42-21 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville. During his red shirt sophomore season, Vaughan would explode, beginning with that Week 2 start, for 3,316 yards with 25 touchdowns to six interceptions. The Buffaloes went 8-3.
The following season was even better as Vaughan would lead the Buffaloes through a 15-game schedule that ended with a blowout loss to Winston-Salem State University – but West Texas A&M would finish 12-3 overall. Vaughan lit up the Texas Panhandle with 4,712 yards passing and a completion percentage of 64.7. He threw 45 TDs to only 13 INTs in the process of earning Lone Star Conference Player of the Year honors.
Back to that senior season: How about 5,401 yards, 53 TDs and 10 INTs en route to a record of 11-3. The yardage total set an NCAA Division II record and solidified Vaughan’s legitimate shot at the NFL.
The knock on Vaughan is his smaller-than-ideal hands, which might lead to some wobbly passes that might not be the most catch-able. We saw some evidence of this in the preseason last summer, but we also saw a passer who stands 6-5 and weighs in at just over 230 pounds. There is no question that his arm is up to the task of making any and all NFL throws. His college highlights show a few passes that travel anywhere from 30-40 yards, have virtually no arc and cruise like heat seeking missiles.
Aside from their physical differences, Vaughan and Romo have similar stories and results looking back at their college careers. They both owned their teams as captains and performed at a level of competition that caused them to slide out of their respective seven-round drafts.
But time paid off for Romo.
It could do the very same thing for Vaughan.
Weeden is not the future in Dallas, and he’s also rather expensive when you consider that he’s more than likely only going to hold a clipboard this coming season. Is there any evidence that he can win a game?
The Cowboys got a 10-year starter out of Romo because they were patient – and he’s apparently not done yet.
If the franchise thinks that Vaughan has the skill set of the next “decade passer” for America’s Team, let go of Weeden, save some money and start preparing Vaughan for tomorrow today.
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