He was one of his team’s top producers every year of his career. He broke the top ten in all-time receiving yards at USC, joining the likes of Robert Woods, Marqise Lee, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Keyshawn Johnson. USC wide receiver Tyler Vaughns had an excellent collegiate career, and yet, he remains under-recognized as an NFL Draft prospect. It’s time to dive into the dichotomy that is Tyler Vaughns. How does a prospect with so much consistent production fall under the radar?
Tyler Vaughns NFL Draft Profile
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 184 pounds
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: USC
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
Tony Pauline’s Tyler Vaughns Scouting Report
Positives: Four-year starter who was very reliable for USC. Consistently finds ways to separate from opponents, always finds the open spot on the field, and comes back to the ball to make himself an available target. Displays solid eye/hand coordination, possesses strong hands, and snatches the ball out of the air.
Easily adjusts, makes the difficult catch in contorted positions, and uses his frame to protect the pass. Always extends to grab the throw away from his body. Shows terrific focus as well as concentration.
Negatives: Lacks deep speed and a burst. Struggles in battles. Possesses a thin build.
Analysis: Vaughns was consistent and productive for USC, and he’s a terrific route runner who separates from defenders and catches everything thrown to him. He lacks great deep speed, but Vaughns projects as a fourth or fifth receiver at the next level.
Tyler Vaughns Player Profile
Right now, he’s the second — or even the third — fiddle behind Amon-Ra St. Brown and Drake London, in terms of name recognition. But there was a time when Tyler Vaughns was a top recruit, just like them. Back in 2016, Vaughns was a four-star recruit and a Top 100 prospect on ESPN’s board. Furthermore, he was the 12th-best receiver recruit in the class, and a top 10 player in the state of California.
Vaughns attracted interest from some of the nation’s most prestigious football programs. Among the suitors for Vaughns were Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame. Despite the high-profile interest, however, Vaughns chose to remain in-state. Living just a half-hour from Pasadena, home of the USC Trojans, the proximity ultimately drew Vaughns to his college football destination.
Tyler Vaughns’ college football career at USC
Despite coming in as a highly-rated recruit, Vaughns redshirted his first season at USC. At the time, the Trojans had an already-established group of receivers, led by JuJu Smith-Schuster. As a result, Vaughns had to wait his turn to see the field. In 2017, he moved up the depth chart and enjoyed being on the receiving end of passes from future top-five pick Sam Darnold.
Vaughns accounted for 19.3% of his team’s receiving production in his first year, catching 57 passes for 809 yards and 5 touchdowns. From that point on, Vaughns was a fixture in the Trojans’ receiving room.
The USC wide receiver played in 30 games over the next three seasons, combining for 165 catches, 1,992 yards, and 15 touchdowns, over that span. He averaged 5.5 catches, 66.4 yards, and half a touchdown per game, never falling out of the picture despite additions around him.
After the Pac-12’s truncated 2020 season came to a close, Vaughns officially declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. He’ll join fellow USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown on the draft circuit, where both of them will seek to find stable roles at the professional level.
Tyler Vaughns’ best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Diagnostically, Vaughns is a surprisingly solid prospect given his draft stock. As Tony explains in his analysis above, Vaughns is a very reliable receiver with good body control and toughness at the catch point. He has some methodical suddenness with his route running, and he’s not a bad athlete. Vaughns’ pro day performance was not great — he logged a Relative Athletic Score of just 1.36, and had a 4.69 40-yard dash, a 31.5-inch vertical, and a 120-inch broad jump. That said, on tape, he shows more speed and burst than what was quantified.
In truth, the concerns are a bit more cosmetic for Vaughns. Standing at 6-foot-2 and 184 pounds, Vaughns is noticeably thin, as Tony notes. Some of the stylistic aspects of his play — the toughness and focus at the catch point — might be more easily impeded by larger, more physical NFL cornerbacks. His middling athleticism only stands out even more at that size.
Vaughns isn’t the most imposing run-after-catch threat, and he’s not nearly as slippery as St. Brown. Additionally, Vaughns will be 24 years old by the start of his NFL career. Therefore, by the time he plays on his next contract, he’ll be 28 years old. So the allotted prime years for Vaughns appear to be lesser than other, younger prospects.
Where does a player like Vaughns project?
Because he’s an older receiver who tested poorly at a light weight, Vaughns feels like a late Day 3 pick at best. His steady college production ensures that he’ll be considered. However, his testing numbers don’t give him any security.
If there’s one thing Vaughns has going for him, it’s that he can provide good depth right away. His lesser RAC ability might limit his interest for teams who value that aspect, but for most teams, he’d be a solid No. 4 or No. 5 receiver, with some special teams experience in his back pocket.
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Thus, any team that needs more depth at receiver late on Day 3 would be wise to consider Vaughns. The USC wide receiver may never emerge into a full-time starting position, but he has the skill set of a receiver who could earn 400-500 yards a year in a steady rotational role. His high degree of early utility should make him a fairly safe pick to stomach in Round 6 or Round 7.
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