No. 3 Peyton Hillis
It’s entirely possible that Peyton Hillis is only this high due to him being the only Browns player to don the cover of Madden Football, but even if that’s the case it should tell you just how popular he was in Cleveland and the surrounding NFL markets. Hillis won the cover contest to be the Madden franchise face for their Madden ’12 video game, beating out Michael Vick.
The popularity alone makes him worthy of a top-five spot, but he also brought a factor to the game of football that wasn’t as big then as it is now; the leap. Hillis made it cool to jump over tacklers in the open field, a trend that became more and more prominent after Hillis’ 2010 season.
The story of Hillis will forever be marred in ego and lack of desire. The former Arkansas fullback came out of college and went to Denver near the end of the draft. This despite sharing a backfield with Felix Jones and Darren McFadden while in college. In his first year in Denver, he posted 5.0 YPC and scored five touchdowns but in the following year, he was lost in the shuffle.
Finally, he got traded to Cleveland for Brady Quinn and exploded onto the season. Ultimately he’d never be able to duplicate that success, and bounced from Cleveland to Kansas City and then to New York before concussions forced him to retire.
During his time in the NFL Hillis put up 3,882 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns. In Cleveland, he rushed for 1,764 yards, with 4.1 YPC and 14 touchdowns. Hillis is now an actor and is starring in his first horror film.