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A historical look at the Cleveland Browns’ first round qb selections

With the Cleveland Browns set to reportedly set to release their latest first-round quarterback, Johnny Manziel, this coming March, the Browns may once again be looking for the elusive franchise quarterback come NFL Draft time.

With Manziel literally unable to put the bottle down it makes us want to take a step back and remember the tire-fire that has been Cleveland’s quarterback picks in the first round.

Just how bad have the Browns been since re-joining the league back in 1999? They’ve been bad enough to take a swing at not one, but FOUR first round quarterbacks — Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Branden Weeden and Johnny Manziel.

Let’s take a look at the mileage and production the Browns have got from from these picks.

Tim Couch (1999, No. 1 overall out of Kentucky)

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 30:  Referee Ed Hochuli #85 looks to help Quarterback Tim Couch #2 of the Cleveland Browns as he lays hurt during the game against the Seattle Seahawks on November 30 2003 at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Browns 34-7. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

SEATTLE – NOVEMBER 30: Referee Ed Hochuli #85 looks to help Quarterback Tim Couch #2 of the Cleveland Browns as he lays hurt during the game against the Seattle Seahawks on November 30 2003 at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Browns 34-7. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Record in Cleveland: 22-37 (5 years)
Comp. %: 59.8%
TD’s: 64
INT’s: 67
QB Rating: 75.1

Spoiler Alert: Tim Couch wins the award for the longest-serving first round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns since their re-incarnation in 1999 folks. Yes, that’s just the first in a long line of sad career notes for the form No. 1-overall draft pick out of Kentucky. Couch had the college stats and big plays to suggest he was a sure-fire candidate to be a franchise quarterback. However, his arm strength was a big issue and he really couldn’t stay healthy either.

Eventually Couch was let go, attempted to hook on as a backup with the Green Bay Packers and was out of football as a player by 2004. Not exactly the kind of legend one wants to make when you are the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

Brady Quinn (2007, No. 22 overall out of Notre Dame)

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 20:  Quarterback Brady Quinn #10 of the Cleveland Browns is sacked by defensive end Elvis Dumervil #92 of the Denver Broncos as linebacker Robert Ayers looks to help out in the fourth quarter during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 20, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Browns 27-6.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

DENVER – SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Brady Quinn #10 of the Cleveland Browns is sacked by defensive end Elvis Dumervil #92 of the Denver Broncos as linebacker Robert Ayers looks to help out in the fourth quarter during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 20, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Browns 27-6. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Record in Cleveland: 3-9 (3 years)
Comp. %: 52.1%
TD’s: 10
INT’s: 9
QB Rating: 66.8

Like Couch before him, Quinn wins an award too — this one for the longest NFL career of any Browns first round quarterback selection. After three years in Cleveland, Quinn made it another three years (with four other teams) in the league before calling it quits after the 2013 season.

However, unlike Couch, at least Quinn was able to throw fewer interceptions than touchdowns — a true accomplishment by this select group of quarterbacks. None of it really mattered much though, as Quinn was saddled with a bad group of skill players and a terrible offensive line around him. Even a world-beater at quarterback would’ve had trouble in those years in Cleveland. It’s still hard to shake the fact that Quinn also just was plain bad — as in being named the No. 2 worst bust of any QB in NFL draft history.

Branden Weeden (2012, No. 22 overall out of Oklahoma State)

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 15: Arthur Jones #97 and Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens sack quarterback Brandon Weeden #3 of the Cleveland Browns during the second half of the Ravens 14-6 win at M&T Bank Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 15: Arthur Jones #97 and Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens sack quarterback Brandon Weeden #3 of the Cleveland Browns during the second half of the Ravens 14-6 win at M&T Bank Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Record in Cleveland: 5-15
Comp. %: 55.9%
TD’s: 31
INT’s: 30
QB Rating: 71.8

Who would’ve thunk that a rookie quarterback older than mega-star Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t pan out? Apparently the Browns didn’t see that as a problem, but perhaps they should’ve. Sure, his age was a negative right out of the gate, but he did possess a rocket arm and had a big body to help hold up to what was a terrible offensive line (Joe Thomas aside).

Still, by Browns QB1 standards, Weeden was by far the brightest prospect out there. Weeden did lead all of the first round QB’s picked by Browns in touchdown to interception ratio and managed to win the second-most games of any of these drafted quarterbacks.

This single interception perhaps personifies every thing that has ever happened to any (and all) first round quarterbacks drafted by the Browns.

He lasted just two years in Cleveland though, as the Browns went a very different direction with another No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Johnny Manziel (2014, No. 22 overall out of Texas A&M)

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 21:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns watches from the bench during the second half of a loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 21, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 21: Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns watches from the bench during the second half of a loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 21, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Record in Cleveland: 2-6 (2 seasons)
Comp. %: 57.0%
TD’s: 7
INT’s: 7
QB Rating: 74.4

A hard-partying, self-absorbed Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback? Sure, why not — it isn’t like the Browns have the most stable of organizations to support a potential time bomb waiting to go off.

Given all of that, does any quarterback really want to hear “…and with the second pick of the 1st round of the 2016 NFL, the Cleveland Browns select…?” History certainly suggests it will be an uphill climb for even the most talented coming out of college.

As it turned out, Manziel spent more time in rehab, on social media popping bottles and flying to Vegas in disguse the night before a game than actually caring about being the starting quarterback. The team laid out pretty strict rules for his ability to be part of the organization and its starter after his stint in rehab, but no one seems to be able to reach him. It’s why reports suggest the team is ready to part ways with another first-round quarterback after just two years.

 

*all stats courtesy Pro Football Reference.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a college football and soccer enthusiast turned avid sports writer. He is a member of the FWAA and a contributor to The Comeback, as well as publisher of talking10 and a managing editor of MadTownBadgers and 32flags.

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