We constantly hear stories about Champ Bailey. He’s the Broncos Pro Bowl left cornerback. He’s a leader of the defense. He’s arguably the best shutdown corner in the league. But what about his backup, Cassius Vaughn?
It turns out that Vaughn will likely get much more playing time this year, and for very good reason. He’s a playmaker. The second-year corner played in 13 games last season, mostly on special teams. This year, however, Vaughn has made some big plays in camp. Interceptions, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries have all been part of his repertoire. In preseason play, Vaughn had five tackles against the Cowboys. Against the Bills, he had 2 tackles and one pass deflection.
Because Bailey will slide into the nickel position on certain plays this season, Vaughn will slide into Bailey’s position at left corner. This will happen when an offense brings in a third wide receiver, which forces the Broncos to bring in a third cornerback to stop that slot receiver. When Bailey moves into that new position, the team will rely on Vaughn to bring Bailey-like consistency to left corner.
Vaughn came to the Broncos last year as an undrafted but eager rookie who simply wanted to make the team. He played in 50 career games at Mississippi with 24 starts. During his time there, he had 152 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles.
Vaughn has the speed (he ran a 4.43 40 at the Combine), but does his size (5’11” 195 lbs) put him at a disadvantage with some of the bigger receivers in the league like Brandon Marshall (6’4″), Plaxico Burress (6’5”), and Vincent Jackson (6’5″)?
This has the potential to be Vaughn’s breakout year. If he can stabilize the left side of the secondary while Bailey is defending another part of the field, then that’s all the Broncos ask. Opposing teams will undoubtedly test Vaughn when he’s in. He’s just a big play away from breaking down or stepping up.