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The best player to wear No. 23 in Browns history

Cornerback Joe Haden earned two Pro Bowl selections during his seven years with the Browns.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns were often their own worst enemy from 1995 through 2016 when it came to the first round of the NFL Draft.

The club routinely squandered their opening picks on such notable players as linebacker Craig Powell, running backs William Green and Trent Richardson, and quarterbacks Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel.

But the Browns got it right in 2010 when they selected Joe Haden with the seventh-overall selection in that year’s draft.

While Haden may not have been worthy of being selected so high with players like safety Earl Thomas, guard Mike Iupati and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas still on the board, Haden did play well enough during his seven years in Cleveland to be our selection as the best player to wear No. 23 in franchise history.

Haden made the Pro Bowl in both 2013 and 2014 with the Browns, and was a second-team All-Pro selection in 2013. His 19 interceptions have him ranked at No. 15 on the franchise’s all-time list.

He was often tasked with covering the opposing team’s No. 1 wide receiver — in part because of his talent but also because the Browns often had no other option — and held his own, although he often struggled going up against the likes of A.J. Green with the Cincinnati Bengals and Antonio Brown with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Injuries began to take their toll on Haden in 2015 and 2016 and his play subsequently slipped. Facing the idea of paying a player $13.4 million while going through an extensive rebuild, the Browns asked Haden to take a pay cut heading into the 2017 season and released him after he refused.

Haden signed on with the Steelers and has spent the past three seasons in Pittsburgh, earning his third Pro Bowl nod in 2019 after playing a full 16-game season for the first time in his career.

Haden was a very good, if not great, player during his seven years with the Browns, and a worthy selection for the best player to have worn No. 23 in team history.

Honorable mention: Defensive back Larry Benz, who spent just three seasons with the Browns (1963 to 1965), but started 40 out of 41 games during that time, finishing his NFL career with 16 interceptions and starting 13 games during the 1964 NFL Championship season.

Cornerback Mark Harper, who was a solid nickleback for the Browns from 1986 through 1990, a stretch that saw the club make the playoffs four times and appear in three AFC Championship Games.

Poll

Who was the best player to wear No. 23 in Browns history?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Larry Benz
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Ricky Stevenson
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Clifford Brooks
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Bill Craven
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Larry Collins
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Autry Beamon
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Mark Kafentzis
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Mark Harper
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    DeJuan Robinson
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Randy Baldwin
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Earnest Hunter
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Marquez Pope
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Errict Rhett
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Devin Bush Sr.
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Adimchinobe Echemandu
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Ray Mickens
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Travis Daniels
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Hank Poteat
    (2 votes)
  • 81%
    Joe Haden
    (127 votes)
  • 5%
    Damarious Randall
    (9 votes)
156 votes total Vote Now