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Draft Central | 2023

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Jones Hasn't 'Ruled Out Zeke' After Vaughn Pick


FRISCO, Texas - As the Cowboys wrapped up their 2023 NFL Draft season on Saturday, they did so with one of the more heartwarming moments in recent memory by taking Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn in with the 212th overall pick, who also just happens to be the son of Chris Vaughn, a scout in the Cowboys organization.

Fortunately for essentially everyone involved, Chris was able to make the call to his son to inform him that the Cowboys were picking him, making it arguably the highlight of the Cowboys' draft process in a highly emotional moment.

"I have never had an experience like that in the draft room," owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. "We're talking about somebody's son who also deserved to be picked. He deserved to be drafted… That's a big deal when you get into that, and you're sitting there as a father agonizing [over it],

And for as wonderful of a moment as that was for the Vaughn family from a personal standpoint, the Cowboys also added a phenomenal and unique ball carrier that should be able to step in right away. More than that, Vaughn marks the first running back drafted by the Cowboys in the post-Ezekiel Elliott era after parting ways with him over the offseason.

But, with Elliott still unsigned with a team with the draft now officially over, is it actually a possibility that the Cowboys elect to bring back Elliott given that he has yet to sign with a team and after the selection of Vaughn?

"Ship has not sailed," Jones said on the opportunity to bring Elliott back. "We haven't made a decision. We've obviously drafted a running back, a little different style than Zeke, but it doesn't change… For us, as far as our interest in Zeke nothing we did today changes that."

After the addition of Vaughn, the Cowboys running back has already started to fill up quickly. The team has Tony Pollard playing on the franchise tag this season as he works his way back from a broken fibula, as well as Ronald Jones who they signed in free agency.

After that, the Cowboys still have Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle, the former of which played well in spurts during the 2022 season while the latter missed most of the season due to injury. Even still, Jones maintained that the team would continue to monitor not only Elliott's status but their own as well, leaving the door open for a possible reunion - in theory at least.

"That's what we'll be sitting here evaluating and look and see what his situation is [and] what our situation is," Jones said. "But I haven't ruled out Zeke."

In the meantime, the Cowboys will continue to move forward with Pollard as the de facto RB1. Of course, Pollard had a career year with his first 1,000-yard season with nine touchdowns and another 371 receiving yards with three scores, earning him his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

Vaughn will bring a unique element to the Cowboys' running back room this season as they begin to reshape it. He rushed for over 1,500 yards during his junior season with the Wildcats and nine scores, but also has a knack as a receiving back with 378 yards and three touchdowns to lead the nation in all-purpose yards in 2022 with 1,936 to earn First Team All-American honors.

Those numbers almost mirror Pollard's production at the professional level during last season, making the pairing of Pollard and Vaughn a sight to behold as the 2023 season looms just a few months from now.

And who knows… Maybe Elliott will join them.

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