Inside one wing of the Cleveland Browns building, scouts watch, analyze and discuss thousands of hours of film from every game across the NFL. Meetings are held, some on a daily basis, to kick around names that could potentially fit on the roster.
Cleveland's new quarterback was one of those names.
"Austin (Davis) is a guy – his name has come up often," coach Mike Pettine said Monday.
The intrigue on the Browns part comes from several angles.
Thrown into the fire last season because of Sam Bradford's ACL injury, Davis started eight games for the St. Louis Rams, tossing 12 touchdowns to nine interceptions and posted a 85.1 QB rating. Davis produced three wins and threw six combined touchdowns in shootout losses to the Cowboys and Eagles. During the whirlwind, the 26-year-old proved to himself he can make plays in the NFL.
"Until you get out there and play, put the ball in the end zone, lead the team, win games – until you do that, you don't really know," Davis said. "It was a good learning experience and I'm looking to build on it."
A walk-on at Southern Mississippi, Davis has always had to be a prove-it player and he did so to a degree with the Rams. The 6-foot-2 height, 221-pound frame and 4.76 40-yard dash time were never the question with Davis. It was more, "can this guy handle the NFL?"
With a banged-up offensive line and some struggling skill players alongside him in St. Louis, there were moments when Davis looked like he could be a starter for years in the league and others when he still had miles to improve.
It's worth noting the Browns did not carry three quarterbacks on the active roster until the final week of 2014 – even with Brian Hoyer's three career starts and Duke Johnson Jr. being a rookie. Pettine has said the stability in the room is unprecedented with McCown's presence. This move truly shows how much this team thinks of Davis.
"Austin's been a guy that there's been some intrigue with that his name has come up before," Pettine said. "The opportunity presented itself to bring him here, so we took advantage of it."
Signing Davis to the active roster is a calling card move by the Browns. They improved the roster with a player who has shown playmaking ability at a critical position. They want to continue to grow Manziel in a competitive practice environment.
In the meantime, Davis will spend his evenings in the downstairs wing of the Browns' building in Berea, learning the offense late into the evenings long after his teammates have left. A third-string quarterback at the start of last season, Davis knows how quickly he can be pressed into action.