Who is the best player to wear number 63 for the Cleveland Browns?
The Countdown to the 2020 NFL season is upon us. With 63 days remaining until the Browns season opener, we continue the countdown by celebrating the best Cleveland Browns player to ever wear number 63: Cody Risien.
Cody Risien was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the seventh round of the 1979 NFL draft out of Texas A&M University. Risien enjoyed a stellar career while at Texas A&M. Twice, Risien was named an All-SWC offensive tackle, and Risien was also selected to the 1970’s Aggies All-Decade team.
Risien had a tall order in front of him when he arrived at training camp in Kent, Ohio his rookie year. The Browns had selected Risien in the seventh round, however, he was the third offensive lineman the team selected in that same draft. They also spent second and fourth-round picks on the position group. Risien would turn out to be the best of the three by far.
Listed at 6-foot-7 and 269lbs, Risien had a natural frame for an offensive tackle. However, the Browns were thinner at the guard position so that is where the Browns coaching staff started working Risien into the game. Getting Risien snaps at left guard put the rookie in an ideal situation. Learning the game at the professional level with Pro Bowlers Doug Dieken on one side and Tom DeLeone on the other, proved to be invaluable to Risien.
By the sixth game of his rookie season, against the Steelers, Risien made his first career start. For the remainder of his career, Risien started in every game that he appeared in. After a solid rookie season that saw him named to the PFWA’s All-Rookie Team, it was apparent the Browns had to find a way to get Risien out on the field on a full-time basis.
Going into the 1980 season, the Browns moved Risien over to play right tackle and that is where he would stay for the rest of his career. The move placed Risien next to the future Hall of Fame guard, Joe DeLamielleure. Risien was an excellent pass blocker, which made him an ideal fit to play tackle during the Kardiac Kids era in Cleveland.
Risien started every game from 1980 through 1983. Unfortunately, Risien suffered a knee injury in the last preseason game in 1984 and was forced to miss the entire season. The injury also occurred during a forgotten season in Cleveland. The 1984 season is what separated the Kardiac Kids from the Bernie Kosar era. It was the first year without Brian Sipe and it was also a season that saw head coach Sam Rutigliano replaced by Marty Schottenheimer after eight games.
In 1985, Risien returned from his knee injury and played the best football of his career over the course of the next three seasons. In both 1986 and 1987, Risien was nominated for the Pro Bowl because of his level of play. Risien’s best seasons as a pro were mirrored by the Browns team success.
Risien would go on to play two more seasons for the Browns before retiring after the 1989 season. He spent 11 years in Cleveland that saw seven playoff berths. Risien’s career bridges the gap between the Kardiac Kids and Bernie’s Browns.
Cody Risien is the best Cleveland Browns player to ever wear number 63.