1. Peyton Hillis – Running Back
Many remember the Arkansas two-headed running back system of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, but many forget that Peyton Hillis was also on that squad. Hillis was used more as a fullback and was eventually drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft by the Denver Broncos to be just that.
In two years with the Broncos Hillis had 81 carries and under 400 yards rushing. He did have five touchdowns as a rookie, which was huge for a seventh-round pick. Then as a part of the Brady Quinn trade, Hillis headed for Cleveland. In the 2010 season, it took only two games for Hillis to win the starting job and he eventually would carry the ball 270 times for a bruising 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Hillis was a hard nose runner but had the sneaky speed to get away when in the open field. Although the Browns only won five games in the 2010 season, his performance would earn him a spot on the cover of Madden 11.
Talk about a curse. After the 2010 season, Hillis would never see the same success. Injuries and contract negotiations would get in the way of the 2011 season, and then the Browns didn’t even make a contract offer and let Hillis walk to the Kansas City Chiefs. In one season with the Chiefs Hillis would have 309 rushing yards before hitting free agency and spending his final two years with the New York Giants.
In a seven-year career, Hillis had 41 percent of his total rushing yards and 48 percent of his rushing touchdowns in one season with the Browns. There’s no doubt Hillis was a fan favorite, and if he wouldn’t have missed a few questionable games in 2011 (many speculate because of his contract) things may have ended differently.
One thing is for certain, Hillis’s style of running wasn’t going to allow him to have that long of an NFL career anyway.