The Buccaneers wanted a play-making, dynamic, pass-catching back in this year's draft class and in the third round, they got one. Ke'Shawn Vaughn was selected out of Vanderbilt and if you think his name sounds good, wait until you hear what he has to say about becoming a Buc.
"I'm happy as hell to be a part of this offense, this team, this organization," Vaughn said on a Zoom conference call after he was drafted. "I believe that I'm an explosive back too so that's something that will help this offense develop a run game. Then [Tom Brady] can throw the ball based off that. The run and the pass game can work hand-in-hand."
It didn't take long for Vaughn to mention his new quarterback – and start elaborating. Another perk to having someone like Brady on your team is that he's well known everywhere. Despite the fact that Vaughn had found out less than an hour earlier that he'd be playing with Brady this coming season, he already had a baseline knowledge of what he was getting himself into and how he could contribute.
"As a back I believe I have home run abilities," said Vaughn. "I can also have that same ability as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Kind of knowing Tom Brady and knowing the offense – he's been in the league for a long time, he's going to be able to put me in the best situations and also my teammates."
And those abilities are exactly what the Bucs liked so much about him. Both General Manager Jason Licht and Head Coach Bruce Arians made no secret about wanting a pass-catching back to go with their current crop of running backs. At Vanderbilt, Vaughn steadily improved in the receiving game. His first year for the Commodores was a breakout season that earned him SEC Newcomer of the Year after he ran for 1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns along with 13 catches for 170 yards receiving with an additional two scores. His senior season, Vaughn again ran for over 1,000 yards but this time, upped his receiving stats to 270 yards on 28 receptions – over double the workload from his prior year. Keep in mind, this is all against the defensive powerhouses in the SEC. Vaughn didn't exactly have a lot around him, but he shined any way.
"The idea is to get him here and see what he does best," Licht said of Vaughn. "We know that he's got good speed. We know that he can catch the ball. We know that he's good in space – he's been very productive there. He's also a very intense person just like Antoine [Winfield] in terms of his demeanor and in terms of his football character and passion – one of the things that we really, really loved about him. He is very smart. I think he's capable of playing on all three downs so you can't have too many good backs. You can't just rely on one good back. If you have a guy who can do multiple things, it makes him even more valuable to your team. We'll see how it goes. We have to get him here, and we'll get him in the mix and we'll see how it all shakes out. We're excited to have him, as well."
Part of playing all three downs means another component to being able to explode on the ground and catch passes out of the backfield. It means protecting. And it's not lost on Vaughn exactly who he'll protecting when asked to aid in blitz pickups and pass protection on third down, especially.
"I'm very comfortable with [pass blocking]," said the 214-pound Vaughn. "Now that I have Tom Brady as my quarterback, I know I have to be even more serious about getting that done and taking that more seriously – knowing who I have on certain plays, making sure my technique is good at all times because that man that's throwing the ball – we need him at all times."
This guy. He gets it.
And should he indeed get all these components of being a complete back down, Vaughn is already envisioning the possibilities between him and the guy that will now be getting the ball in his hands, one way or the other.
"To be in this situation where you have Tom Brady as your quarterback who loves throwing check down routes," Vaughn said. "Those could be big-yardage plays that we could capitalize on any moment. Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T. If you're playing with one of the best quarterbacks of all time, you can't do [anything] but be happy and ready to win some games for him."
View pictures of RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn, the 76th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.