The Cleveland Browns made several undrafted free agent signings after the draft, including quarterback Kevin Davidson.
Kevin Davidson of the Princeton Tigers will have a chance to convince the Cleveland Browns that he is good enough to play in the National Football League. That is a tall order. The main objection to Davidson is that the Ivy League is not exactly a football gold mine.
However, they consistently send players to the NFL, including Kyle Juszczyk of Harvard, who is a fullback for San Francisco. James Develin of Brown plays fullback for the New England Patriots. Perhaps the most famous recent alum is former Harvard quarterback “Fitzmagic,” Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has played for eight teams in 15 seasons, but has generated offense and excitement wherever he has gone.
Davidson put up numbers at Princeton. In 10 games during the 2019 season, his stat line includes 246 completions from 374 attempts (66.8 percent completion average), 256.9 yards per game and a 25/6 touchdown-to-interceptions ratio. His passer rating last year was 153.0 and yards-per-interception ratio was 428.2 yards/interception.
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Davidson has prototypical size at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. His ball velocity measured a tad higher than Justin Herbert’s velocity at the combine: 57/56 MPH for Davidson versus 55/54 for Herbert. His foot speed was less impressive, as he turned in a 5.00 40-yard dash time. Another factor to not like is hand size, which measures 8-1/4 inches. In Cleveland, quarterbacks have to be able to throw a slick ball in cold weather, especially come playoff time.
The Browns roster is deep enough that they may not want to carry three quarterbacks on the active roster, though the addition of two extra active roster spots this year might help justify a third quarterback. Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum are almost certain to make the team, but third-string Garrett Gilbert might be in jeopardy. However, Gilbert is not eligible for the practice squad. So if the Browns decide that two active quarterbacks are sufficient for the season, they could try to hide Davidson on the practice squad, but Gilbert would have to be released.
Davidson probably would not make the 53-player roster unless the team is afraid that some other team will claim him. That is what happened to David Blough last year. The Browns liked him but realized they could not sneak him through waivers. Perhaps they played Blough a bit too much in the preseason, which allowed the rest of the league to establish scouting reports on him. In any case, they wound up trading him to Detroit along with an exchange of future seventh round picks.
Hence, if the plan is to keep Davidson on the practice squad, it would be wise to not over-expose him. Let Gilbert take the bulk of the second half exhibition games to either win that third active roster spot for himself or potentially enable a small trade. Davidson has to clear waivers before the Browns can sign him to the practice squad, so they need to make it as difficult as possible for other teams to compile a scouting report on him.
Believe it or not, Davidson already has a teammate on the Browns. That would be tight end Stephen Carlson, who was his teammate in 2018. This year, Carlson will be challenging to become the second tight end. Prior to Carlson, former Browns tight end Seth DeValve was also a Princeton alum. It is a little surprising that Princeton has sent three players to the Browns. Next thing you know, they might be applying to join the SEC.
Paul DePodesta and Andrew Berry are both Harvard alums, but were willing to swallow their school pride to sign players from arch-rival Princeton. That had to hurt.
The toughest challenge for Davidson will be moving up to compete with a different level of athlete in the NFL. The pro game is way faster than anything Davidson has encountered at the Ivy League. You know he has something on the ball to play in the Ivy League. He will have to use those smarts to make the adjustments necessary to earn his living at the pro level.