A Cleveland Browns podcast

Browns series: Top 10 best players since ’99; No. 5 Kevin Johnson

The Cleveland Browns returned to the playing field in 1999 after a brief three-year window when their original organization was moved to Baltimore after the conclusion of the 1995 season.

Since that move was made much of the current conversations revolve around what’s happened since 1999. The new Cleveland organization has had its problems over the last two decades with numerous coaching changes and over 30 quarterbacks trying their hand at leading the team.

While there have been issues, they’ve still put together some squads over the years that have played tough and even gotten into the postseason a time or two. Along the way, there have been numerous players that have shown true grit and dedication to being the very best.

We want to recognize those players in this series. Qualifying for being in the top 10 included playing for the Browns for three seasons or more. Several high-profile players have come through town over the years, but not many of them did much in their time with the Browns.

So, if you’re expecting to see Odell Beckham Jr. on this list you won’t. This list does include a couple of current players as well so we can point out their outstanding accomplishments already.

No. 5 all-time Cleveland Browns player since 1999- Kevin Johnson, WR
Johnson was drafted in the 1999 NFL Draft in the second round after Tim Couch was drafted at No. 1 overall. He was the first wide receiver taken by the team and he proved to be a very good addition. Johnson was a product of Syracuse and established himself as a reliable No. 1 receiver.

He was with Cleveland into the 2003 season until he was traded surprisingly midway through the campaign to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He finished his career in Cleveland with 315 receptions for 3,836 yards and tallied 23 touchdowns. His 2001 season was his best as he went for 1,097 yards on 84 catches and caught nine touchdowns. He had several big games over his time as a Brown. That first season, he made the NFL All-Rookie team. He had two games that season where he went over 100 yards receiving.

By 2001, he collected another two games of going over 100 yards. He also had nine games of catching five passes or more. In 2002, he added another eight games with four or more catches. Before he was traded midway through that 2003 season, he had one of his best games as a Brown when he caught 11 receptions for 109 yards in an early season win 13-12 over the San Francisco 49ers.

The teams Johnson played on weren’t very good, but he helped those young teams post-1999 get off the ground. There have been wide receivers who have come and gone from Cleveland such as Josh Gordan who was spectacular for a season like he was in 2013 when he recorded an amazing 1,646 yards in reception yards but ultimately, a player like Johnson was a symbolic and talented member of those early teams that helped define their grit despite a team that was less than overly talented.

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