Undrafted QB aims to prove he's a keeper

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys passed on Johnny Manziel with the 16th overall pick, but they did add a quarterback from A&M to their roster to be more than a camp arm. Well, West Texas A&M.

Undrafted free agent Dustin Vaughan is known for two things: lighting up Division II competition and starring as the Christmas-sweater-sporting prima donna in a hilarious workout parody video. Not necessarily in that order.

Vaughan’s goal for the next few months is to prove he’s worthy of the Cowboys keeping him as a developmental prospect.

“I want to play for the Dallas Cowboys,” said Vaughan, whose chances of making the 53-man roster would increase significantly if Kyle Orton’s situation ends with the backup QB off the roster. “I want to find a role on the team that I can fit. I think that’s my job coming in here. That’s why they had me come, to find a role and to see if I could fit in.”

The Cowboys gave the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Vaughan a sixth-round grade and signed him soon after the draft ended. He turned down offers from the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Rams to sign with Dallas, which gave him a $5,000 bonus that tied for the third-largest among their crop of 24 undrafted free agents.

Vaughan dominated Division II competition the past two seasons, throwing for 10,113 yards and 98 touchdowns while leading West Texas A&M to a 25-6 record. After playing in a spread offense at a small school, Vaughan’s challenge is to learn how to play under center while making a massive jump in the level of competition.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett cites Vaughan’s remarkable college production, poise, intelligence and throwing ability as reasons the Cowboys believe he has potential.

“He’s raw, but he’s a big kid, strong-armed, gym-rat type of guy,” quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said. “He’s somebody that you could possibly develop.”

Vaughan considers the Cowboys an ideal situation for an undrafted quarterback trying to carve out an NFL career. He's well-aware that starter Tony Romo is one of the most successful undrafted quarterbacks in NFL history and looks forward to learning from him. Vaughan will also have the opportunity to learn from two coaches who lasted a long time as QBs in the league after coming in as long shots: Garrett (undrafted) and Wilson (eighth-round pick).

“This was definitely the situation that I wanted to be in,” Vaughan said. “It’s a great place to come in and learn from guys that have done it and have gone through what I’m going through right now, to be able to learn and be like a sponge.”