Cleveland Browns: Davion Davis could follow Rashard Higgins footsteps

May 22, 2019; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Davion Davis (16) catches a pass during organized team activities at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
May 22, 2019; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Davion Davis (16) catches a pass during organized team activities at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s not that often that a kid from an FCS school makes ESPN highlights, but Cleveland Browns wideout Davion Davis did it on a regular basis for Sam Houston State

Davion Davis is the last man on the Cleveland Browns roster, replacing wideout Derrick Willies who was placed on the reserve/retired list at the end of July. Willies showed promise in 2018, but had injury issues and apparently never completely made it back. So what about Davion Davis?

The strength of Baker Mayfield is that he can throw an accurate pass into a tight window, and if he knows the receiver well, and the receiver can catch the ball and run a nice pattern the lack of speed can be overcome. Rashard Higgins is evidence of this, as he stepped in for Odell Beckham, Jr. last season and actually became the number one receiver much of the time as Jarvis Landry was walking wounded and not his normal self.

Combined, Higgins and Mayfield have developed a sort of Vulcan mind-meld in which they know each other so well that Mayfield can throw the ball to a certain spot on the field where Higgins can make a catch, but no defender can reach it. Higgins has great hands and runs precise patterns and makes a living in the NFL despite running a 4.64 40-yard dash.

Do you want to guess what Davion Davis ran at his Pro Day? Would you believe exactly 4.64? The cosmic coincidence is too great to be ignored.

His major fault is that he came from a small school, the Sam Houston State Bearkats in the All-Southland Conference, a Division I FCS school. His junior was his best, when he scored 21 total touchdowns (17 receiving scores, two on the ground, and two via punt returns), the second-most in the nation; and had 78 receptions for 1,206 yards. However, he was injured in his senior year and did not put up comparable numbers.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski knew Davis when Stefanski was the quarterback coach and then the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. Davis was on the practice squad and made the active roster for a few games but recorded only 11 snaps on offense and special teams in 2019.

The Browns have another ex-Vikings receiver, Alexander Hollins, on their current roster who was a Vikings teammate of Davis in 2019. Hollins picked up two career receptions and made a playoff appearance that season.

There are actually several players that are getting a second look with the Browns after flunking a trial with other teams. This is a difference from previous Browns administrations, which used to emphasize raw rookies to fill out the 90-player roster. But, philosophically, who would you rather have to fill out the roster?

A 21-year-old who has never been around NFL players before? Or a 24-year-old who has been with the same coach for three summer camps in a row learning the Pro system, and who has been enduring the hard knocks from NFL defensive backs for three years?

In baseball, there is an extended opportunity to watch players develop and collect statistics, and there is very little doubt that most of their athletes do not peak until their mid-twenties. Football teams, especially bad ones, tend to expect fringe players to peak at age 21 or 22; i.e., immediately after college, or else they are usually dismissed.

This armchair analyst very much doubts whether this is the correct development schedule. Players who are able to stick it out on the practice squads of the NFL for a few seasons have to improve, especially at wide receiver, where the difference between the college game, especially an FCS school, and Pro game is like night and day.

Not that it is easy to play football at any level, but at the Pro level, receivers are fighting to get open only by a few inches to catch a bullet pass and then get hit by a professional assassin. This is a major adjustment in style of play, and one summer camp may not be enough for many players.

So, can Davis do the same type of things that Higgins can do? Namely, can he run patterns and make difficult catches while establishing a special rapport with Baker Mayfield? Speed is overrated for a receiver if the player can do the other things.

Here’s one highlight that suggests he has good hands. Or hand. Namely, he can make a one-handed catch that would make Odell Beckham, Jr. proud.

You can check out his highlight reel catches elsewhere on

Keeping in mind that the average defensive player is going to be sped up a few notches in the Pro game, it’s still a  stunning display. He can play receiver, for real.

Hopefully, he can at least be kept on the practice squad, and if someone goes down, he should be able to run out and make a twelve-yard catch to move the chains, preferably with two hands, but one is acceptable in an emergency.

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Go get ’em, kid. The Dawg Pound is with you.