The Big Mac Blog

Cowboys “drafted” QB just needs to follow the Romo plan

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dustin Vaughan (10) and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) at Valley Ranch back in June. Vaughan is trying to make the team again as a backup QB.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dustin Vaughan (10) and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) at Valley Ranch back in June. Vaughan is trying to make the team again as a backup QB. Star-Telegram

Eventually the Dallas Cowboys will need a quarterback to replace Tony Romo, and by now we all can agree that is not Brandon Weeden. He is the Break Glass In Case of World Disaster QB.

After watching him start and play in a loss against the Arizona Cardinals last season, there is no developmental part to the Brandon Weeden plan; he is who he is.

The team talked about possibly drafting a quarterback this spring, but that did not happen.

But what of Dustin Vaughan? How do you quantify a man that does not play?

“It’s internal and being honest with myself because you don’t hear it a lot from coaches,” Vaughan said. “There are a lot of people to coach. ... You can’t create a ceiling for yourself. You can’t let them know that you don’t have more in you. You work before practice, after practice, be in the film room and study like crazy. That’s how Tony did it.”

Vaughan should simply follow the Tony Romo plan to getting a shot as an NFL QB.

Vaughan is the second-year player from West Texas A&M that last season actually made the Cowboys’ 53-man roster despite not being drafted. This is the Cowboys’ “drafted” quarterback. The Cowboys liked Vaughan enough to sacrifice a roster spot for him, and now the process begins for Vaughan to try to take Weeden’s job as the No. 2. That is how Romo began his climb – just make the team, and then start knocking off the guys in front of you.

That Vaughan actually made the roster was the shock given that this team had for years gone with just two quarterbacks on the roster. He was inactive for 15 games last season, and never did a thing outside of practice or the preseason.

Vaughan went from a guy who was The Man at West Texas A&M to a team that is loaded with a collection of rich guys who were The Man at schools from the SEC, Big 12, Pac 12, and the NFL.

“It’s like a freshman coming into college,” he said. “They push me to be confident and knowing that I belong here. It is tough to do that because you constantly ask yourself, ‘Do I belong here?’ I do now.”

For Vaughan making the roster is a large win. He went from possibly making about $85,000 as a practice squad player to a salary of $500,000 on the active roster.

“You go from not sure if you are going to make anything at all to where it is a lot of money,” he told me. “That was a little bit of a surprise. My wife and I are pretty conservative. We are both pretty cheap. We had to figure out a way to best take care of it, because it’s not what you are used to. We are both pretty good about saving our money. ... The only thing I bought was a car.”

If ever there was a team that was good to undrafted QBs, it is the Dallas Cowboys. Their starting QB, Tony Romo, was not drafted. Their head coach, Jason Garrett, was an NFL QB that was not drafted. Their offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan, was a QB in college that was undrafted but signed by the Cowboys as a rookie free agent. Only their QB coach, Wade Wilson, was drafted – he was picked in the eighth round in in the 1981 draft out of East Texas State.

At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, Vaughan has NFL size. It is a question of whether he can play. If Vaughan is going to make the roster, and begin the process of replacing Weeden as the No. 2, he has to make plays and look like he can play in the fake football games, i.e. preseason. Those games are his Super Bowl. That’s what Romo did.

We know Brandon Weeden is no real threat to Romo as a long term replacement. Vaughan has a chance.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @macengelprof

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