Cleveland Browns: Ranking the 20 best former players since 1999

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The Cleveland Browns have a pretty sad record of gaining talent that is synonymous with the franchise, but there are a few and it’s time to rank them.

First things first, this will not include anyone on the Cleveland Browns’ active roster, or was just on the active roster for the 2019-2020 season. So Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett, Joe Schobert, and others aren’t eligible. That said, all of them would probably be on the list. There will eventually be a follow-up list, ranking the top 20 players who are/were just active but today we’re focusing on the franchise “icons” of the last 20 seasons. It should be emphasized that the word “icon” is being stretched to fit the topic of this article.

The criteria for the list are pretty simple; Pro Bowl appearances, helping achieve winning seasons (all two of them), that one time they went to the playoffs, and lastly the overall performance of the player despite the team around them. This list is going to be a sad reminder at how bad this franchise has been when you see some of the names on it. Many only had one or two good years, or a single Pro Bowl to their name. Some don’t even have that going for them.

With that said, let’s take a look at the honorable mentions.

*All stats and awards listed from Browns’ tenure only

WR/KR Dennis Northcutt

Receiving: 3,438 yards
Rushing: 298 yards
KR/PR: 2,149 yards
Total Yards: 5,885
Total TD’s 15
– Dennis Northcutt would have made the top ten easily if it wasn’t for the fact Joshua Cribbs raised the level of expectation so high for returners. Cribbs and Devin Hester should be pound for the Hall of Famer, but that seems unlikely. Northcutt, however, was the king of the return play before Cribbs showed up. He was decent enough to be as a slot receiver but despite his few good years and helping the team get to the playoffs once, he never was a starter on the team.

TE Kellen Winslow

Receiving: 2429 yards
Total TD’s: 11
Pro Bowler (1x) – 2007
– Kellen Winslow is a scumbag, but we can’t just wash away his history with the team for the sake of being sensitive. Winslow was expected to be a Hall of Famer, following in the footsteps of his father but constant missteps and injuries derailed his career.H e was taken with the sixth pick in the 2004 draft out of Miami (FL) but missed nearly his first two years of his career thanks to a motorcycle wreck. Remember that? Winslow was doing stunts on a motorcycle that he didn’t even know how to ride yet? He was still part of that magical 2007 team that won 10 games and somehow missed the playoffs but was ultimately shipped off to Tampa Bay.

QB Kelly Holcomb

Passing: 3,438 yards
Passing TD’s: 26
Interceptions: 21
Completion Percentage: 62.6%
– The undrafted Kely Holcomb came into the league in 1995 but didn’t see any success until 2002, subbing in for an injured Tim Couch in the season opener. He produced some of the highest-scoring games in that season, causing a quarterback controversy. Couch would regain his position but would start the team’s playoff game due to an injury to Couch.

RB Jamel White

Rushing: 1,324 yards
Receiving: 1,246 yards
Return: 1,165 yards
Total Yards: 3,735
Total TD’s 11
– While now we respect players like Jamel White, back in his time in the league, all-purpose players like him were looked past because they weren’t seen as conventional between the tackle runners. Undrafted in 2000, White went on to have four productive years as a versatile offensive player at a time when the team didn’t have many play-makers.

D’Qwell Jackson

Tackles: 822
Five seasons of 100+ tackles.
– D’Qwell Jackson will go down in history as the best middle linebacker since the team’s return in 1999. There have been some solid players in the middle, but none were the tackler that Jackson was. He was a black hole for the offense, sucking in any running back or wide receiver that dared to challenge his dominance. The future Pro Bowler was cut by Ray Farmer for some reason and would go on to have three more good years in Indianapolis. Had management not cut him, it’s possible the team may have been good enough in 2014 to have a winning record. No Pro Bowl or Year-End Awards cost him a top 20.

 

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