The Tampa Bay Buccaneers surprised the majority of the fanbase when they drafted Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round, but he could surprise people in 2020.
Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn wasn’t a favorite on draft night, but his ceiling is incredibly high with the Buccaneers offense alongside Tom Brady. When taking into account his role and the formation of the team, Vaughn is a legitimate candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020.
This certainly seems like a long shot with players like Joe Burrow in contention, but it is not an impossibility.
To poke some holes in the other candidates’ infallibility, Joe Burrow may have played the best college football season ever, but it was only a single year. Tua Tagovailoa is playing with a massive risk of injury, and there is a chance that he doesn’t earn the starting job with enough time to be a legitimate threat for any major awards.
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As far as the other running backs are concerned, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, De’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, and J.K. Dobbins are all going to teams with defined three-down running backs except maybe in the case of CEH. Vaughn may not have been the flashiest pick, but he is in a position to make a bigger splash than his draft counterparts.
While question marks are surrounding the other players, Vaughn is good enough to be a competitor based on his own talent and the system that he will be playing in.
Even with Ronald Jones getting the bulk of the carries, Vaughn will likely be used heavily in the passing game. Fellow running back Alvin Kamara was able to win the award back in 2017, and Vaughn is about to be lined up in a very similar role.
Tom Brady loves checking down passes to his running backs as evidence by James White‘s stats over the years. If he makes himself useful in third-down sets, Vaughn could be in place to earn around 200 total touches on the year. If his college efficiency pairs roughly with that number of touches, Ke’Shawn Vaughn will be one of the most talked-about rookies in the league.
It also helps Vaughn’s case that he will be playing on one of the most-covered teams in the NFL. The Bucs will be playing in many primetime games, which could have a positive impact on Vaughn’s standing.
People are quick to assume that Burrow is the lock. There may be some truth in that line of thinking, but it should be noted that the Bengals had many bigger problems than quarterback in 2019. Andy Dalton is a mediocre quarterback and was still unable to help the team out.
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If Ke’Sahwn Vaughn plays his cards right and makes the most of his touches on the ground and through the air, he will make an extremely compelling case to be in the conversation for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020.