ESPN hits the mark with ranking of Browns best quarterbacks

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Former Cleveland Browns players Webster Slaughter
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Former Cleveland Browns players Webster Slaughter /

The Cleveland Browns list of the franchise’s top quarterbacks is pretty easy to compile, as ESPN’s recent poll found out.

The Cleveland Browns have been searing for their next franchise quarterback ever since that November day in 1993 when they released Bernie Kosar.

Over the ensuing 24 years, the Browns have tried everything imaginable to fill the biggest hole on the roster and the most important position in the NFL.

Draft picks? The Browns have selected 11 quarterbacks in the NFL Draft, including four in the first round.

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Bridge quarterbacks? Oh yes, as we’ve seen the likes of Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Jake Delhomme, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer and Josh McCown come through town.

The Browns have been so desperate that they have even tried the reclamation project approach, with predictable results last season from Robert Griffin III.

The inability to somehow, someway find an actual NFL quarterback is vexing, to say the least, and it also masks the fact that the Browns once actually knew how to find a top-notch quarterback.

Don’t believe us? Well, look no further than ESPN, which recently ran a poll to rank the top quarterbacks in franchise history. The results:

"1. Otto Graham2. Bernie Kosar3. Brian Sipe4. Frank Ryan5. Bill Nelsen"

It is a fairly predictable list — what, you thought Johnny Manziel was going to be represented? — but also an accurate one.

Graham is now, and forever will be, the top quarterback on the list. A valid argument can be made that he should be at the top of the list for all NFL quarterbacks, at least until someone can surpass his record of 10 title game appearances and seven championships in his 10-year career.

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Kosar and Sipe and essentially interchangeable at their positions. Kosar led the Browns to three AFC Championship games and five consecutive playoff appearances, while Sipe sits at or near the top of every career passing record in team history.

Ryan deserves his place as the last quarterback to lead the Browns to a championship, but also because he had the team in contention for three more titles and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

As the guy who followed Ryan, Nelsen has been a bit under-appreciated as the quarterback at the end of the Browns dynasty years. He made the Pro Bowl in 1969 and went 34-15-1 in his four years as the starting quarterback.

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No one will ever surpass Graham, and it will take a lot of work for a quarterback to crack one of the remaining spots on the top five.

But anytime someone wants to get to work on that is fine by us.