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Browns QB History Lesson: Why Cleveland Will Draft Johnny Manziel

The Browns have had a long struggle to find a quarterback. Just how bad has it been?

There is a reason the Cleveland Browns have been to the playoffs one time since re-joining the NFL in 1999 and only twice since '89. And it’s the same reason any team wins or loses games in the modern NFL.


The Browns lost their third consecutive game on Sunday, falling to 3-5 after briefing leading the AFC North a few weeks ago. Jason Campbell got his first career start for Cleveland, making him the third different starting quarterback in 2013 already.

Campbell got the start because both Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer have gotten injured this year. Which means, since 1999 Cleveland has started 20 different quarterbacks. Over that time the Browns have won 76 games, lost 156, posted two winning seasons and are now on their sixth head coach.

Three of those 20 quarterbacks were first-round picks and fans in America’s Comeback City should expect a fourth in May. The 2014 NFL quarterback class might be the deepest and most versatile group the league has seen in decades and the Browns own two first-round picks. Veteran pocket passers like AJ McCarron and Derek Carr fit the pro-style systems perfectly. Dynamic senior gunslingers like Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd have the ability to stay in the pocket but can also move around if needed. And explosive underclass dual-threats like Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, Braxton Miller and Brett Hundley might actually be the most coveted of the bunch.

Regardless of who Cleveland wants, it makes no sense for the Browns not to go early on a QB in the draft — especially, in the modern rookie salary cap era. But Manziel might be the best fit. He has the attitude and makeup to succeed anywhere in the country, but it takes a special persona to win in a town like Cleveland. He is tough as nails, is the most entertaining player in the college game and would instantly help boost ticket sales. Sure, there are questions marks surrounding his ability to be an accurate NFL passer, but he definitely moves the needle in a big way. Which is something that has been missing under center in Cleveland since Bernie Kosar left town.

How badly do the Browns need a star quarterback? Take a look at who Cleveland has had throwing passes since 1999:

Tim Couch*1999-0322-3711,131646759.8
Ty Detmer19990-25484251.6
Spergon Wynn20000-11670146.1
Doug Pederson20001-71,0472855.7
Kelly Holcomb2001-044-83,438262163.3
Luke McCown20040-46084749.0
Jeff Garcia20043-71,73110957.1
Trent Dilfer20054-72,321111259.8
Charlie Frye2005-076-133,490142362.5
Ken Dorsey2006-080-33700746.7
Derek Anderson2006-0916-187,083464552.9
Brady Quinn*2007-093-91,90210952.1
Bruce Gradkowski20080-1260333.3
Jake Delhomme20102-28722762.4
Seneca Wallace2010-111-61,2616457.2
Colt McCoy2010-126-154,388212058.3
Thaddeus Lewis2011-120-12041168.8
Brandon Weeden*2012-pres.5-144,539192356.2
Brian Hoyer2013-pres.3-06155359.4
Jason Campbell2013-pres.0-12992057.5

* - First-round pick

Some stats to consider:

• Brian Hoyer is the only starting Browns quarterback since 1999 with a winning record. He was 3-0 this year before getting hurt.

• In just 19 starts, Brandon Weeden is third amongst Browns quarterbacks with 4,539 yards, behind only Tim Couch and Derek Anderson during that span.

• Four players have only one career start for the Browns. Spergon Wynn, Bruce Gradkowski, Thaddeus Lewis and Jason Campbell. They have combined for three touchdowns and five interceptions. Campbell will get his second start on Sunday.

• Seven of the 20 QBs to start for Cleveland since 1999 failed to win a single game. Two others won only one game.

• Only four Cleveland quarterbacks have completed more than 60 percent of their passes (the league average is 61 percent): Kelly Holcomb, Thaddeus Lewis, Charlie Frye and Jake Delhomme.

• The Green Bay Packers have started three quarterbacks since 1992. Brett Favre (253 games started), Aaron Rodgers (85) and Matt Flynn (1).

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