2020 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Fantasy Football)

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As of the writing of this article, the NFL Draft is just seven days away, and that means dynasty league rookie drafts are just around the corner. Fortunately, the Fantasy Footballers writing staff has you covered with our 2020 Rookie Profiles, including awesome rookie wide receiver Reception Perception articles from Matt Harmon. Up to this point, I’ve written scouting profiles on other well known running back prospects, including D’Andre Swift, Clyde Edwards-HelaireJ.K. Dobbins, and Anthony McFarland Jr. The next rookie profile on the list: Ke’Shawn Vaughn, running back out of Vanderbilt.

Editor’s NoteFor more on the 2020 rookie class, check out all of our 2020 NFL Draft content and stay tuned to the Fantasy Footballers podcast for the Rookie Preview show where the Ballers breakdown each position heading into the draft.

College Production Profile
Rush Attempts Rushing Yards Yards/Att Rushing TD Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving TD
2015 157 723 4.6 6 16 119 0
2016 60 301 5.0 3 9 89 0
2018 157 1244 7.9 12 13 170 2
2019 198 1028 5.2 9 28 270 1

As you’ll notice in the table above, there is a year missing in Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s college statistics. He played two seasons at the University of Illinois prior to transferring to Vanderbilt, resulting in him sitting out for one season in 2017. As a result, Vaughn is one of the older running back prospects in this year’s class, turning 23 in just a few weeks.

Coming out of high school as Mr. Football in Tennessee, Vaughn decided to play for the Big Ten’s University of Illinois, and he got off to an impressive start. As a true freshman, he led the Fighting Illini in rushing and also showed pass-catching chops in the receiving game. However, despite entering his sophomore season as a starter, Vaughn lost his starting job, resulting in a significant decline in production along with a transfer to Vanderbilt University.

After sitting out one season, Vaughn set the SEC on fire as a junior, rushing for 7.9 YPC and over 1,200 yards, good for third-most rushing yards in the SEC and third-most yards from scrimmage in the conference. In his final season at Vandy, Vaughn again eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards and set a career-high in receptions and receiving yards, which is actually impressive in the SEC considering Ke’Shawn Vaughn was the entire offense for Vanderbilt in 2019. The Commodores went 3-9 in 2019 and averaged just 281.8 yards per game as an offense. For reference, LSU averaged 553.7, Alabama averaged 504.5, and Georgia averaged 401.4. Vaughn’s stats aren’t as impressive as Jonathan Taylor or J.K. Dobbins, but he accounted for 108.2 yards from scrimmage per game. In other words, Vaughn accounted for 38% of his team’s offensive production. His numbers don’t knock your socks off, but he was a productive player in the SEC while playing on a bad team where opposing defenses could key in on him and game plan around stopping Vaughn. Context is important when discussing Vaughn’s college profile.

NFL Scouting Combine Measurements
Height, Weight 40-Yard Dash Vertical Jump Broad Jump
5' 10", 214 lbs. 4.51 seconds 32.0 inches 117 inches

Ke’Shawn Vaughn wasn’t necessarily a big “winner” at the Combine from an athletic testing perspective, but he showed enough in the form of his 40-yard dash. At 4.51, his speed is good enough to succeed in the NFL. After all, he is a former high school track athlete. His Combine profile does leave a bit to be desired, however, as he chose to pass on participating in the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill, two drills that help to showcase a running back’s agility and ability to change direction quickly.

Aside from the testing at the Combine, Vaughn interviewed well. Here’s a quote from his time in Indianapolis that describes his mentality. This excerpt comes from SB Nation, which you can read here.

My mindset with the college route was that it’s easy to go to the Bamas, O-States, LSUs, and all that, and maybe you’d just be another player in that program,” he told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I want to go to a program I can help turn around, set myself apart. Because both programs [Illinois and Vanderbilt] … I’m thinking the uprise is on the way. So that’s kind of why I chose Illinois coming out and then as far as Vandy, the same way.

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To me, this was the biggest takeaway from the Combine. Ke’Shawn Vaughn is a tough player – both mentally and physically. He’s a guy who works hard and plays with a chip on his shoulder.

What’s On Tape

Games viewed: LSU (2019), Missouri (2019), Georgia (2019), Baylor (2018)

Strengths

1. Vaughn is a tough runner with a nose for the end zone.
As described above in his college production profile, Vaughn is excellent when close to the goal line. He rushed for 21 TDs in his final two seasons at Vandy. When the Commodores got in close, they turned to Vaughn with frequency given his ability to hit pay dirt over and over again. He keeps his legs churning to earn tough yardage.

2. Vaughn’s contact balance makes him hard to bring down in the open field.
At 5′ 10″ and 214 lbs., Vaughn is a compact runner who knows how to use his size to effectively shed would-be tacklers. He’s powerful enough and has good enough balance that arm tackles aren’t enough to bring this guy down. Multiple times on tape, it took multiple defenders to bring Vaughn to the ground.

3. If given a crease, Vaughn is quick enough to get to the second level.
As mentioned above, Vaughn isn’t necessarily the fastest back in this class, but he’s quick enough to get to the second level. After he makes up his mind and bursts through the hole at the line of scrimmage. He does run with some stiffness in his hips, but he is quick enough to plant his foot in the ground and get upfield.

Weaknesses

1. While Vaughn can accumulate longer rushes, he’s a guy who isn’t known for his ability to rip chunk plays with ease.
Vaughn is fast enough to outrun linebackers, but he isn’t usually a guy who is going to blow past the safety for a 20+ yard run. These were rare for him in his final season at Vandy. Again, it’s not that he can’t do it, he just isn’t known for being a “home run hitter.”

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2. He can get to the edge, but he lacks the agility to turn the corner quickly, limiting big-play upside on the perimeter.
These two weaknesses sort of tie in together, but one thing that I noticed for Vaughn is that a lot of Vaughn’s bigger plays came from runs up the middle with the ability to get to the second level quickly. When running to the perimeter or the outside, Vaughn usually lacks that initial change of direction burst to turn it upfield quickly.

2020 Fantasy Outlook

Ke’Shawn Vaughn is a good running back prospect, but he’s not an elite prospect like a Jonathan Taylor or D’Andre Swift. He’s expected to be taken in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft, which as we know, is a major predictor of success at the NFL level. Sure, middle or late-round running backs can be an asset for our fantasy rosters, but Round 1 and Round 2 running backs tend to get the most opportunity. With that being said, Vaughn is likely to join a depth chart as a backup in his first season in the NFL. It will likely take an injury to the guy in front of him to make an impact for fantasy football in 2020, making him a late-round flier or waiver wire name to watch for redraft leagues.

In dynasty, however, Vaughn is an extremely interesting option who could have an opportunity to produce as a lead back in 2021. In rookie drafts, Vaughn is a name to watch at the end of the second round or the early third round, making him one of my favorite rookie values. Vaughn has the tools to succeed and should get an opportunity to succeed, but that opportunity is more likely to come in 2021 rather than in 2020.

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