Can James Davis Become the Browns' Best Pick of the 2009 Draft?

Michael HeinbachCorrespondent IMay 13, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 16:  Running back James Davis #1 of the Clemson Tigers runs for the corner of the end zone to score a touchdown in the first quarter against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 16, 2006 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

When the dust settled around Cleveland Browns headquarters in Berea, Ohio, following an extremely eventful two days of the NFL Draft, the team had collected eight new faces for the franchise.

The headliners from the Browns' 2009 draft class included first round pick Alex Mack, an offensive lineman, as well as second-round selections Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi, both of whom will attempt to improve an underacheiving receiving corps.

But the casual fan might have missed what could turn out to be Cleveland's draft day coups.

With their final selection, the last of three sixth-round picks, the Browns took Clemson running back James Davis. The 5'11", 211-pounder put up big numbers his first three seasons at Clemson, while earning ACC Rookie of the Year in 2005 and two first-team All-ACC selections.

Despite sharing carries with C.J. Spiller the last three seasons in the Tigers' vaunted "Thunder and Lightning" backfield—Davis was the Thunder—and a disappointing senior year, Davis racked up some very impressive career numbers.

In college, Davis collected 3,881 rushing yards, second on Clemson's all-time list. His 47 career rushing touchdowns were good for second in ACC history. His senior campaign, during which he totaled a career-low 751 yards, was hampered by a poor offensive line and a struggling quarterback.

The fact he was still around for the 195th overall selection remains puzzling, but the Browns took Davis with a coy smile. They may have even gotten an endorsement from one of Davis' main competitors for touches in Cleveland's backfield this fall.

Davis grew up in Atlanta and played his high school ball at Douglass High School, the same school that produced Browns' featured running back Jamal Lewis. The two even trained together during the offseason.

Davis relished the opportunity to study under a battle-tested NFL vet.

"Jamal is a guy that I can look up to," he told "And I know with his work ethic, if I can work as much as he can, I can be a good player."

It's no secret that Lewis is in the twilight of his career and it appears as if Davis, who is built in the mold of his mentor, will get a shot at spelling the veteran next season. He's already impressed the Browns' coaching staff at the teams' rookie mini-camp.

If Davis pans out to be what the Browns expect, they may just have stumbled on to a gold mine as well as their running back of the future. If that happens, Cleveland's draft-day steal will be a welcome change from the Browns' bungled drafts of the past 11 years.