Browns top 20 QBs since 1999: Baker Mayfield, Joe Flacco among the best

38 QBs have started a game for the Cleveland Browns since 1999
Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield
Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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Certainly, everyone has their opinion on their favorite quarterbacks, or rather, which ones they prefer. So, rather than threading the needle to determine which QBs were better during their Cleveland Browns career, I have decided to go a more untraditional route and rank the top four QBs within five tiers.

Each tier consists of a group of quarterbacks that fit specific criteria mainly in how they inherited their starting roles. This means that a quarterback in a lower tier could very well have far outperformed someone in a tier above them. However, they are in that tier due to their expected role within that season, or seasons. It also means that a QB may fit more than one tier, so I placed them into the one that made the most sense.

Due to their roles on the Browns, the tiers are categorized less by what they did or how they did, but more by how long they contributed to the team, and the quality of said contribution. For example, the bottom tier, tier five, all consist of players who played less than a season for Cleveland and all of them spent some, or most of the season on the practice squad.

Tier three is all of the rookies they've gone through throughout the years, but they most likely spent more seasons in Cleveland due to the plethora of front-office executives willing to "sink with their ship."

Tier five, or the bottom tier, is called "down but not out." This tier includes QBs who began on the practice squad, were signed to the practice squad and elevated to the active roster throughout the season, or were brought in from the streets after injuries annihilated the depth chart. Quarterbacks that began the season as the fourth string are also included within this tier. The qualifying players include Bruce Gradkowski, Ken Dorsey, Thad Lewis, Nick Mullens, Joe Flacco, and Jeff Driskel.

The fourth tier is what I call "career cushioning." These include QBs who were brought in with no intention of starting or competing for the starting position, however, they played their role when asked of them. This tier also includes players who started as QB3 during seasons where Cleveland only held two QBs on the active roster.

These players signed when Cleveland had, what they considered at the time, an established starter or signed as a mentor to guide a rookie. The players considered for this tier are Doug Pederson, Seneca Wallace, Jake Delhomme, Josh McCown, Austin Davis, Kevin Hogan, Case Keenum, and P.J. Walker.

Tier three is the "ring of fire", and consists of rookie QBs who were thrown into the game before they were ready. It also consists of QBs selected by the Browns who were supposed to "change the culture" or "elevate the players around them."

Some of these QBs are draft busts who never accomplished anything, while others were simply never supposed to start. The QBs within the ring of fire include Spergon Wynn, Luke McCown, Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Johnny Manziel, Connor Shaw, Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

The second tier is named "status quo", and comprised of players who were brought in with a fair amount of hype; bridge quarterbacks who were meant to help develop a future rookie, and/or players who created a Quarterback controversy in Cleveland. The players considered are Ty Detmer, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer, Robert Griffin III, Tyrod Taylor, and Jacoby Brissett.

The first tier, and the top of the pyramid is called "cloud nine." The QBs in this tier were responsible for the only winning seasons since 1999. They also led Cleveland through some of the most exciting seasons since their return in 1999.

Sadly, for Browns fans, it's difficult to accept that "euphoria" is described as four winning seasons, three playoff appearances, and one playoff win in the last two and a half decades. The four QBs who qualify in the top tier are Tim Couch, Derek Anderson, Baker Mayfield, and Deshaun Watson.

Without further ado, let's talk through the actual rankings for each tier.