Browns sixth-round draft choice James Davis, a running back from Clemson, is getting the chance to live a dream. He could have been drafted by any of the 32 teams in the NFL, but it just so happened he ended up with the Browns.
Davis grew up in Atlanta. He graduated from Douglas High School, just as Browns running back Jamal Lewis did 13 years earlier. For Davis, it is more than coincidence.
Lewis returns to Atlanta to train in the offseason. He and Davis have worked out together on several occasions. Davis has a strong friendship with Jamal's brother, John Lewis.
There might not be many times when Davis and Jamal Lewis are in the backfield together in 2009, but they dress across from each other in the Browns' locker room. Davis won't have to walk far to get advice.
"I always thought about this moment," Davis said. "For it to happen is unbelievable. I talk to him and his brother all the time. Jamal is probably at the end of his career, but he's a veteran and he has a lot in the tank.
"I'm going to try to learn from him. He's been in the league a long time. He knows a lot of stuff. I'm sure he's going to try to coach me up."
Davis looked smooth and shifty in the rookie minicamp. Coach Eric Mangini isn't getting overly excited because every player at this level looks good in shorts and a T-shirt. But Davis, 5-11, 218, did a good job of making defenders miss when Mangini put the team through one-on-one tackling drills.
"You evaluate more in terms of, 'Did he press the hole well enough? Did he go to the right place often enough? Did he understand where he was in the flare control?'" Mangini said. "So there are going to be a lot of nice cuts in minicamps and the OTAs. You'll hear the offensive coaches ooh-ing and aah-ing. It's one of the few times they can do it so you just let it go."
Fifteen running backs were drafted ahead of Davis. Ten were taken in the first four rounds.
Draft analysts expected Davis to go sooner than the sixth round. Lindy's Draft Report rated him 10th and had him going in the fourth round. NFLDraftScout.com was close, rating him 13th and a fifth-round pick.
Davis was "Thunder" in Clemson's "Thunder and Lightning" backfield with C.J. Spiller last fall.
NFLDraftScout.com compares Davis to former Browns running back Lee Suggs, a fourth-round draft choice from Virginia Tech in 2003. Dave-Te Thomas compared him to RB Kevan Barlow.
Mangini has to hope Davis does more than Suggs. Suggs lasted three seasons for the Browns. He rushed 263 times for 1,048 yards and four touchdowns. He finished his career in Miami in 2006 with six carries for 26 yards.