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How many good quarterbacks have the Cleveland Browns passed up?

While it is hard to find a good quarterback in the NFL, the Brown have 3 prominent missed picks over the past 10 years. But how many good quarterbacks have they had a shot at?

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Finding a franchise quarterback, or even a competent one can be challenging in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns are seen around the league as the epitome of ineptitude in this regard, having used four 1st round picks at the position since '99, and coming away with nary a decent starting quarterback. To contrast, division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore found their franchise quarterbacks on their first and second tries respectfully, while the third team in the division, the Cincinnati Bengals, has actually drafted two competent starting quarterbacks in that time frame, although the jury is still out whether current QB Andy Dalton is a franchise quarterback. Dalton has shown steady growth over his career and is looking like he is worthy of being called a franchise quarterback.

The Browns have had several high profile quarterback misses in the late first round, with names like Brady Quinn (2007- 22nd overall) , Brandon Weeden (2012- 22nd overall) , and now Johnny Manziel (2014- 22nd overall) cringe-worthy selections for a Browns franchise which seems to change management every other year.  It is easy to criticize the team for their selections, and for who they passed over instead of those 3, but how many franchise or even decent starting quarterbacks have they passed over in that time frame? Since they did not have a pick high enough to have selected Andrew Luck at #1 in 2012, a player like Luck would not be relevant to this discussion, although a player like Ryan Tannehill (2012- 8th overall) would be since the Browns drafted third that year.

I thought it would interesting to go year by year and look who they drafted. Since most starting quarterbacks are chosen in the first 40 picks, I limited my scope to who the Browns took in the first or early second rounds, depending on the available quarterbacks that year.


Who the Browns chose: CB Justin Gilbert, 8th overall (with a trade down from 4th); QB Johnny Manziel, 22nd overall (trade up from 26th overall), Joel Bitonio, 35th overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected after their pick(s): Derek Carr, 36th overall; Teddy Bridgewater, 32nd overall.

The Browns honed in on Manziel, who after just 2 seasons looks like he is done in the NFL. They compounded the mistake by trading up 4 spots from 26, parting with a 3rd rounder (#83) to move up those 4 spots. WR's Donte Moncreif and John Brown, and OG Trai Turner are a few of the better players to go just after that pick. However, the Browns missed on at least one of the 3rd rounders they held onto anyways, with Terrence West being let go of after just one season. With David Carr looking like one of the better quarterbacks in the league already, Teddy Bridgewater looking competent at the least, and Blake Bortles being chosen at 3rd overall, this looks like the selection which will most haunt them.


Who the Browns chose: OLB Barkevious Mingo, 6th overall

Relevant quarterbacks selected after their pick(s): None

While Mingo was a colossal bust in the worst draft ever, but for the quarterback position the only decent players are Geno Smith 39th overall and Mike Glennon 73rd overall. So at least for the quarterback position, there was not really anything missed.


Who the Browns chose: RB Trent Richardson, 3rd overall; QB Brandon Weeden, 22nd overall; Mitchell Schwartz, 37th overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected after their pick(s): Ryan Tannehill, 8th overall; Brock Osweiler, 57th overall; Russell Wilson, 75th overall; Nick Foles, 88th overall; Kirk Cousins, 102nd overall.

These misses are not as glaring. Tannehill was considered a reach and a project at 8, so he wasn't really relevant where the Browns were picking, although Richardson was a atrocious pick in hindsight. Osweiler barely looks decent at this point, and in Cleveland he would probably look worse. And Russell Wilson is the rare quarterback who most teams passed on 2 or 3 times, so it is hard to 'blame' the Browns any more than any other team who in hindsight made a big mistake overlooking the diminutive quarterback. Cousins and Foles have been better than Weeden to this point, but that is not saying much.


Who the Browns chose: DT Phil Taylor, 21st overall; Jabaal Sheard, 37th overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected after their pick(s): Andy Dalton, 35th overall; Colin Kapernick, 36th overall; Tyrod Taylor, 180th overall.

While both of the Browns picks produced nothing in Cleveland, they missed an opportunity with Dalton and possibly Kapernick too. However, while it is easy to pan them for missed opportunities, keep in mind that they avoided busts like Jake Locker (8th), Blaine Gabbert (10th), and Christian Ponder (12th) in atypical Browns fashion.


Who the Browns chose: CB Joe Haden, 7th overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected after their pick(s): None

Colt McCoy (85th overall) was chosen by the Browns in the 3rd round, and he was the best quarterback in the draft after #1 overall Sam Bradford. Joe Haden and S T.J. Ward were both good picks, and the quarterbacks were laughable- Tim Tebow or Jimmy Clausen anyone?


Who the Browns chose: C Alex Mack, 21st overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected after their pick(s): None

Besides #1 overall pick Matthew Stafford, you had Mark Sanchez (4th overall) and Josh Freeman (17th overall). The only other QB in this draft to appear in more than three games is Curtis Painter, and Alex Mack was a great pick.


Who the Browns chose: No 1st  (Brady Quinn trade the year before) or 2nd & 3rd rounders

Relevant quarterbacks selected: Joe Flacco, 18th overall

The Browns missed out on division rival Joe Flacco due to taking Quinn the year before. But they would have had to trade up from their 1st rounder (22nd overall) to get him, and at that point they had the promising Derek Anderson at quarterback, having finished 10-6 the season before.


Who the Browns chose: OT Joe Thomas, 3rd overall; QB Brady Quinn, 22nd overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected after their pick(s): None

This was an pathetic draft for quarterbacks, led by #1 overall bust Jamarcus Russell (Trent Edwards is the most accomplished 2007 QB draftee). Cleveland may have completely whiffed on the Quinn pick, but the impact of this missed pick was exponentially bad because they gave up their 2nd round pick and the 2008 1st rounder, and he was a bust. This pick took them out of the running for Joe Flacco the following year.


Who the Browns chose: OLB/DE Kamerion Wimbley, 13th overall

Relevant quarterbacks selected: Matt Leinart, 10th overall; Jay Cutler, 11th overall.

The Browns would have had to trade up 2 or 3 slots from their original 12th slot to take one of those 2 quarterbacks, although neither has had such special careers. Cutler would have been a big upgrade over what they have trotted out at the position since 2006. Other quarterbacks in this draft who stuck around the NFL include Kellen Clemens, Charlie Whitehurst, and Tarvaris Jackson.


Who the Browns chose: WR Braylon Edwards, 3rd overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected after their pick(s): Aaron Rodgers, 24th overall

This is probably the biggest miss, but it is hard to know whether Rodgers would have become the same quarterback starting in his 1st or 2nd season, as opposed to sitting behind Brett Favre for 3 years. There were several other decent quarterbacks in that draft, but none who you could call a franchise QB: Jason Cambell, Kyle Orton, Derek Anderson, Ryan Fitzpartick, and Matt Cassel.


Who the Browns chose: TE Kellen Winslow, 6th overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected: Ben Roethlisberger, 11th overall; Matt Schaub 90th overall.

The Browns picked at sixth, after 2 franchise quarterbacks came off the board at #1 (Eli Manning) and #4 (Phillip Rivers). However, the most accomplished quarterback from that draft was sitting there for them, ripe for the picking. This has to be their biggest whiff; they settled for Josh McCown in the 4th round, with a 34 year old Jeff Garcia as their starter for the season. Schaub was a solid starter in Houston for 6 seasons, so he could also be considered a miss.


Who the Browns chose: C Jeff Faine, 21st overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected: Rex Grossman, 21st overall.

Tim Couch was still the starter, and no one is shedding tears over missing out on Sexy Rexy.


Who the Browns chose: RB William Green, 16th overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected: Josh McCown, 81st overall; David Garrard, 108th overall.

Again, Couch was thought to be the solution, and the 2002 draft provided no better alternatives anyways.


Who the Browns chose: DT Gerard Warren, 3rd overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected: Drew Brees, 32nd overall

It was year 3 of the Tim Couch era, so they weren't exactly looking for a new quarterback. Brees was also not on the radar in the top 5, so you cannot really blame them either, even if they were.


Who the Browns chose: DE Courtney Brown, 1st overall.

Relevant quarterbacks selected: Chad Pennington, 18th overall; Marc Bulger, 163 overall; Tom Brady, 199th overall.

Tim Couch was the starter for 4 years in Cleveland, so obviously they were not looking for a quarterback. Besides Brady, who everyone missed 6 times, there was not much here anyways.


As inept as the Browns have been at drafting, there is really only 2 prominent quarterback who they passed on: Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. Joe Flacco they didn't have a shot at due to their own ineptitude, and otherwise the other big miss was Andy Dalton. Ironically, 3 of those 4 quarterbacks reside in their own division, and contribute to their continued bottom dwelling.

Rodgers could have considerably changed their fortunes, although it is an unknown whether he would have developed the same way in Cleveland. For reasons unknown to us, Rodgers went from in the running for first overall, to plummeting down to 24th overall when San Francisco chose Alex Smith over him. The Browns chose 3rd that year, and Rodgers was mocked anywhere from 1 to 5 in the mocks I saw. So this one is clearly on the Browns.

Another prominent miss was Jay Cutler. Cutler, has not had the same level of success as the above 4 quarterbacks, but would have at least provided stability for the team, allowed them to try to build around a good quarterback, and maybe they wouldn't be switching coaches every few years if they had that stability.

Both in 2014 with Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater, and in 2012 with Brandon Weeden, the choices they made at quarterback perhaps prevented them from selecting a much better option at the position. We will never know what could have been. But for the sake of their fans, lets hope that under Hue Jackson they can exorcise their demons and crawl out of the tailspin they have been in since the original team left in 1996.