*Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2015 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features quarterback Dustin Vaughan.*
Name: Dustin Vaughan
Height/Weight: 6-5 / 235
Experience: 1 season
College: West Texas A&M
Key stat:While all of Vaughan's stats come from the preseason, there are some interesting notes about the rookie who played collegiately at the Division II level. In 43 attempts in the preseason, he was not intercepted once, but his lack of mobility and/or pocket awareness was troubling, getting sacked five times.
Contract Status:Signed through 2016.
2014 Impact: Dressed in the Arizona game as the backup quarterback to Brandon Weeden when Tony Romo missed the game with a back injury. Other than that one game, Vaughan was inactive the remainder of the season. What was encouraging about Vaughan being on the 53-man roster the entire season is that he was able to not only stand on the sidelines during the home games and gain that experience, but go on the road as well, which can be very different in how you prepare for a game. Where Vaughan was also able to gain some experience was working each day on the scout team against this Rod Marinelli-coached defense. I remember Tony Romo taking the same route when he came into the league and how it helped him get his career started. From what I was able to see from Vaughan in regard to his game action in the preseason, it's that when he plays, you see flashes of his ability and that is where he is going to need more work. As a quarterback it's not about the flashes but being consistent down after down. When you watch Vaughan practice and play, there is no question about his arm strength, but there are questions about his mechanics and his accuracy. There are snaps where he doesn't throw the ball the same way each time and that is an area where Wade Wilson and Scott Linehan can work with him to get better. As Vaughan feels more comfortable with the way they want him to throw, he can become more confident as a quarterback much like Romo did.
Where He Fits: It doesn't take an expert to understand why the front office and coaches carried Dustin Vaughan on the 53-man roster the entire season -- they like the player and would like to see him in their future plans. If there is one player that needs to have a big jump from one season to another, it's Vaughan. In talking with people associated with the team about his work ethic and character, it is all high praise to go along with his physical tools. Vaughan is going to get plenty of opportunities -- not only in training camp during practices, but in the preseason games, as well, to see how far he has come to put his name in consideration for that backup spot to Romo.
Nick Eatman: The question the Cowboys must figure out with Vaughan is where the cutoff line is on the third day of the draft, regarding picking up another quarterback. I would say somewhere around the fifth round. My point there is, if you like a quarterback to take in the third, fourth, or fifth, you better know right away that he's going to be better than Vaughan. After that, I find it hard to believe you're going to get someone that will be worth the time that is already invested with Vaughan. That doesn't mean you don't acquire another rookie QB in free agency, but it seems likely the Cowboys will want to see what a full offseason will do for Vaughan.