Cowboys emotionally scout as team drafts son

Cowboys emotionally scout as team drafts son

FRISCO, Texas — For a brief moment, Chris Vaughn didn’t know what was happening when Jerry Jones, owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, asked him to give up the team’s ticket for sixth-round selection. After all, picking is now automated.

But when his draft room colleagues stood and Jones symbolically tossed him a napkin as if it were the card, Vaughn realized the team was ready to pick his son Deuce, a Kansas State running back ranked 212th overall on Saturday .

Vaughn, the Cowboys’ assistant director of college scouting, was given the privilege of calling Deuce with the news.

“Look man, do you want to come to work with me next week?” Vaughn asked his son in a cracked voice on video from the team’s design room.

“I wouldn’t mind at all,” Deuce replied.

Jones has been part of more than 30 drafts as the team’s owner and general manager. He has led the #1 overall pick and a number of high level trades.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in the design room,” Jones said.

Head coach Mike McCarthy said: “In 30 years in this league I’ve never seen anything like it. That was a very special moment.”

Vaughn, who has been with the Cowboys since 2017, did not write an account of his son at the start of the draft. When the Cowboys talked about him at their meetings, he left. He didn’t want to influence the direction in any way. Just before the Cowboys hit the clock, Vaughn started directing the team’s undrafted free agent process and he wasn’t in the draft room.

In a side hallway his son called him and he could tell the feelings of not being chosen were beginning to affect Deuce. Chris put aside the Scout in himself and became the father pumping his son up.

By the time Chris returned to the draft room, Jones, McCarthy, Executive Vice President Stephen Jones and Vice President of Player Staff Will McClay had decided that Deuce would be the pick, but Jerry Jones discussed other possibilities with the pick.

“It was like a joke that everyone but me got caught in,” Chris said.

And emotions erupted again.

“For me, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of,” McClay said. “Just having a man that we value so much as a staff member and the work he does and then saying so many positive things about his son and then looking at the tape and seeing how impactful he is going to be on the field , then you have this moment to share this because it’s all about family. When you talk about the cowboys, you’re talking about football, you’re talking about everything else, but you’re talking about family.

Deuce, who was in Austin, Texas with his mother, sisters and 50-60 other family members and friends, watched the draft and waited for his chance. He quickly saw the design room video with his father.

“In the last 21 years of my life and to see how he’s reacted like that, I’m not going to lie,” Deuce said. “It was a tear duct.”

Deuce said he never asked his father what the cowboys thought of him.

“I wanted it to happen organically,” he said. “I wanted everything to fit together the way it was going to be. And in the last two weeks, the biggest thing we’ve said to each other is that I just needed a chance. It didn’t matter which round. It didn’t matter which choice. I just needed a chance, a foot in the door. That it’s Dallas, oh man, it’s incredible.”

In three years at Kansas State, Deuce rushed for 3,604 yards and 34 touchdowns and had 1,280 yards received. In 2022, he led the FBS in all-purpose yards with 1,936. That included 133 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. But at 5-foot-5, 179 pounds, his size was a deterrent for some teams.

“You watch him run through Alabama’s defenses, break his ankles and do things that he did, he’ll make you believe in a rush,” Stephen Jones said.

As a running back, the Cowboys have Tony Pollard, who was named to the Pro Bowl last year, plays at the franchise tag and fractured his ankle in the playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. They signed Ronald Jones as an unrestricted free agent and also have Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle. Jerry Jones said he would not rule out the potential return of Ezekiel Elliott, who was released by the team in March.

“I definitely think Deuce can play the normal flow of our offense, first and second down,” McCarthy said. “I think to state the obvious in terms of the protection component we need to work together there, but there are some very different situational thoughts and concepts that I have in mind early on. Randall Cobb type things I’ve done in the past. Yes, we will definitely have opportunities for him to take advantage of his productivity. I mean he’s a dynamic player.”

His father has known that for some time.

“The ability to make plays in different ways. And I want to say that again with my Evaluator cap,” said Chris. “He can play in different ways. He proved that. What I would say is you don’t necessarily have to play him differently because he’s a smaller guy. His biggest runs have been indoors, downhills as opposed to always. I’m not trying to be the coach here in saying that, but what I’m saying is he’s going to come and give it all he’s got.

And he won’t forget the call.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Chris said, and his voice cracked again. “You know I told someone he’s the hardest worker I know, I happen to be his father. It’s really refreshing to see what this league is made of. Of people who cannot be measured. That’s what he always was. I expect that’s what he’ll be if he gets the chance he deserves as a player just by getting it right.”

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