5. Eric Metcalf, 1989
Perhaps this is a bit of bias on my part because there was no player for the Cleveland Browns that excited me more during the 1990s than Eric Metcalf. A running back who also played special teams as a returner and could even line up as wide receiver, Eric Metcalf was an absolute joy to watch.
And for Metcalf, he loved every aspect of the game but admitted that returning the ball was the most exciting part of the game when he spoke with us at Dawg Pound Daily back in 2019 following his Hall of Fame announcement.
"“What I enjoyed most was the ball in my hands by any means necessary. Playing running back allows you to get the ball quicker. At receiver you have to run a route and hope the ball is on time as well as blocking is good enough to give the QB time to throw. When returning a kick or punt, there are so many variables that come into play that can determine whether you are able to return the ball or not. With all that being said, returning is the most exciting to me because it changes the momentum of the game and can be a dagger to the heart for the opposing team.” — Metcalf via DPD"
Picked 13th overall out of Texas, Metcalf came into the NFL with a bang. He rushed for 633 yards and six touchdowns while adding another 397 yards and four touchdowns on 54 receptions. In addition to his work on offense, he had 718 yards on 31 kick returns.
According to Scott Patsko of Cleveland.com, he set the team record for yards from scrimmage by a drafted rookie with 1,030 as well as the record for most net yards in a season (1,748) and combined touches by a rookie as well. Metcalf was lightning in a bottle and his rookie season was one of the best the Browns ever had.