The Tampa Bay Buccaneers addressed their biggest needs on both sides of the ball with their first two picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, but heading into the third round, there was still pressure to find a versatile running back to pair with Ronald Jones II.
Without a fourth-round pick, the Bucs had to find the right fit at No. 76 overall, or risk losing out on most of the backs in this year's class capable of bringing the skill set they were seeking, as well as being able to make an immediate impact.
That's what led them to Vanderbilt's Ke'Shawn Vaughn, a big-play machine with the explosiveness and pass-catching prowess Tampa Bay desperately needs.
“The idea is to get him here and see what he does best," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said via video conference call Friday night. "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.”
Vaughn is ready to bring his big-play ability to a team already loaded with offensive playmakers, led by arguably the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady.
“I’m happy as hell to be a part of this offense, this team, this organization," Vaughn said "And then, like I said earlier, 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.”
Vaughn put up huge numbers against SEC competition after transferring from Illinois, facing some of college football's best defenses and still finding a way to be one of the most productive backs in the nation.
Jones is still the clear-cut starter in Tampa Bay, but don't be surprised if Vaughn quickly becomes a big part of the Bucs offense, thanks in large part to what he can do on third downs and in the passing game.