Cleveland Browns: 15 best defensive backs of all time
Greatest defensive backs in Cleveland Browns history: #7. Tommy James
One of the more interesting things to see when looking back on the stats from some of the early football players is the rounds they were selected in. For example, Ohio State product Tommy James was taken by the Detroit Lions as a 17th-round pick in 1947 — taken by the Detroit Lions.
A completely different league at the time, James was pick No. 146, which would have made him roughly a fifth-round pick today. That still would be a late-round pick, which is why his successful career was so unexpected.
James joined the Lions despite having some eligibility remaining but played just two games for them as he broke his arm. He wasn’t retained which led to him heading to Cleveland, which was much closer to his hometown. It was also a different league as the Browns were still in the AAFC at that time.
As most of us know, Cleveland dominated that league and James was able to win a title during their final two years there. They then moved to the NFL and the defensive back was part of three more championships in 1950, 1954 and 1955.
During his eight seasons with the Browns, James was named to just one Pro Bowl which seems like quite the snub. He was a ballhawk who had nine interceptions in 1950 — which was the Browns first season in the NFL.
That wasn’t his Pro Bowl campaign, however, as instead that honor was given to him in 1953 when he had five interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown on one of those recoveries.
James finished his career with 34 picks (fourth in team history) and five fumble recoveries. He scored two defensive touchdowns as well while proving to be a force during the Browns most dominant stretch of football.