QUARTERBACK : FRANK RYAN
You may be clamoring for Sipe or Kosar, but I'm picking the guy with the Championship ring. Dr. Frank was a 5th round draft pick of the L.A. Rams in 1958. He did get into quite a few games as a Ram until he ended up a Brown in 1962, where he started just over half of the season. Firmly entrenched now as a starter, Frank led the Browns to a Championship win in 1964. The Browns also got back to the Championship game in 1965. He started until 1967. He was a 3 time All Pro from 1964 to 1966. He lost his job by 1968, and ended up a backup to Sonny Jurgensen in Washington from 1969 to 1970.
FULLBACK : MIKE PRUITT
Part of the "Do It Pruitt" backfield. Mike was a first round draft pick of the Browns in the 1976 draft. He did not play much in his first 2 seasons, but earned the starting job by 1978. He exploded onto the NFL scene in 1979. Mike gained a career high 1,294 yards rushing, while catching 41 passes. He also scored 11 total touchdowns. He earned his first Pro Bowl nomination. Mike made his last Pro Bowl team the next year, when he rushed for 1,034 yards, while catching a career high 63 passes. He also scored 6 times. Mike Pruitt followed that up with 1,103 yards rushing the next year. He matched his career high of 63 receptions, while scoring 8 times. The NFL Players Strike of 1982 caused Mike to miss his fourth straight 1,000 yard season, but he rebounded the next year to gain 1,184 yards rushing. He also scored a career high 12 touchdowns. Mike got hurt mid-way into 1984, and ended up playing 4 games for Buffalo, and 9 games for Kansas City in 1985. He retired after playing the 1986 season as a Chief.
The other half of the "Do It Pruitt" backfield. Greg was a second round pick in the 1973 draft. Greg made his impact as a return specialist initially. Greg made the Pro Bowl his first two seasons in the NFL on special teams. He did get 540 yards rushing in his second year in part time status, while taking the only kickoff in his career for a touchdown. He was a starter by 1975, and ran for 1,067 yards. He also caught 44 balls, and scored a career high 9 touchdowns total. Greg ran for 1,000 yards the next season, while catching 45 passes. In 1977, Greg went to the Pro Bowl again. He ran for 1,086 yards and had 37 receptions. This would be the last year he ran foe over 1,000 yards. Greg averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 1978, when he gained 960 yards rushing. He got injured, and missed 4 games. Greg was only able to play 6 games the following year, but rebounded in 1980. With Mike Pruitt doing the bulk of the running, Greg was utilized as a receiver. He caught 50 balls, and scored 5 times via the pass. Greg followed that up with a career high 65 passes caught in 1981. Greg ended up an Oakland Raider the next season, as was used mainly as a punt returner. In 1983, Greg went to his final All Pro game. He averaged 11.5 yards per return on 58 attempts. He also scored the only punt return of his career, when he took it 97 yards. He also scored the last 2 touchdowns rushing the ball that year, when he gained 154 yards on 26 attempts at a rate of 5.9 yards per rushing attempt. The Raiders went on to win Super Bowl XVIII. He played one more season in 1984 before retiring.
Milt was a first round pick of the Browns in 1966 draft. He caught 23 balls his rookie year, but was only able to play 6 games the next season due to injury. Milt caught a career high 43 passes in 1968, and made his first Pro Bowl team. He averaged 18.4 yards per reception, and scored a career high 5 times. Milt then caught 37 balls in each of his next two years, scoring once total. 1971 would be the last year he made the Pro Bowl, when he snatched 40 balls and scored twice. Milt had 83 receptions over the next three seasons, while scoring 5 times total. He caught 1 pass for 19 yards in 1975, then retired. His career average of 15.5 yards per reception on 271 catches is very impressive for a tight end in that era.
This guy has the resume to be in Canton. Gary was a first round pick of the Browns in 1962. He wasn't just drafted for his receiving skills. Collins was also an excellent punter. Collins only caught 11 passes his rookie year, but did average 42.8 yards per punt on45 attempts. He snared 43 passes the next year, and led the NFL with 13 touchdown receptions. He averaged 40 yards per punt. He had the longest punt of his career that year, 73 yards, which also led the NFL. Collins scored 8 touchdowns on 35 passes in 1964, and averaged 42 yards per punt, as the Browns went on to win the NFL Championship. 1965 was, perhaps, his best all around season in his NFL career. He had 50 receptions at a 17.7 yards per catch average, scoring 10 times. He also led the NFL in punting average, when he averaged a career high 46.7 yards per punt. He punted one ball 71 yards as well. He was named to his first Pro Bowl team that year. Collins made his last Pro Bowl appearance the next year when he had career highs in catches and yards. He also scored 12 touchdowns, when he caught 56 passes for 946 yards. 1967 would be the last year Collins would be asked to punt full time, after his had the first two punt s of his career blocked. He would asked to punt only 10 more times for the rest of his career. He did score 7 touchdowns on 35 receptions in 1967. Gary got hurt early in 1968, catching just 9 passes. He came back to catch 54 passes for 748 yards in 1969, scoring 11 times. He caught 41 passes over the next two seasons, scoring seven total touchdowns. Gary then retired after the 1971 season. With 70 touchdowns in 127 games over 10 seasons, along with a career punting average of 41 yards per punt, Gary Collins had a great career.
Ray was a 4th round draft pick by the Browns in the 1952 draft. He spent his rookie year mainly as a punt returner. In 1953, he made his first Pro Bowl team. He caught 39 passes at a 18.5 yards per catch average, while rushing 60 times at a 5.9 yards per carry average. He scored a career high 8 touchdowns total as well as throwing the only touchdown pass of his career. Renfro played just 7 games in 1954, due to injury, as the Browns won the NFL Championship. Cleveland repeated as NFL Champs in 1955, as Renfro caught 29 balls for a league leading 20.8 yards per catch average. He also matched his career high of 8 touchdowns. He was named to the Newspaper Ent. Association All NFL 2nd Team. Renfro returned to the Pro Bowl in 1957, when he had a career high of 28 yards per catch on 21 receptions. He also scored 6 touchdowns. He averaged 23.9 yards per reception, with 6 touchdowns, the following season. In 1959, Renfro caught 30 passes and scored 6 touchdowns. He was named to the NY Daily News All NFL 2nd Team. 1960 would be Renfro's last All Pro season, when he caught 24 passes and scored 4 times. Renfro then had career highs in catches and reception yardage in 1961, with 48 catches for 834 yards. He also scored 6 times. Renfro averaged 20.6 yards per reception the next year, on 31 receptions. 1963 would Renfro's last in the NFL when he caught 4 balls for 82yards with 1 touchdown. Renfro retired with 50 touchdowns on 281 receptions, to go with 4 more rushing, at a very impressive 19.6 yards per reception average.
Here is another Brown who could certainly be considered worthy for induction into Canton. He was a 2nd round pick of the Browns in 1959. Though Schafrath played some Defensive End and Guard in his career, he made his mark at Left Tackle. In 1963, he was named an All Pro, and would be given this honor seven straight years until 1969. The Browns would win the 1964 NFL Championship with Schafrath protecting Quarterback Frank Ryan's blindside, and well as his paving the way for Hall of Fame Running Back Jim Brown. Later on, Schafrath would open up holes for Hall Of Fame Running Back Leroy Kelly. Maybe Schafrath will never get inducted into Canton? After seeing how long it took for fellow linemate Gene Hickerson to get in, the odds get longer. Regardless, this man was a fantastic player up until the day he retired after the 1971 season.
Doug was a 6th round draft pick of the Browns in the 1971 draft. He soon was starting halfway into his rookie year, replacing Dick Schafrath. He also recorded a safety that year playing special teams. Doug would never miss a start from that point on, until he retired in 1984. He was solid, consistent, and dependable. He was recognized by his peers in 1980, when he was selected to his only Pro Bowl. Doug did score a touchdown in 1983, when he caught a 14 yard pass on a Tackle Eligible play. He may not be the best Left Tackle to ever wear a Browns uniform, but he was certainly excellent.
Jim was a sixth round draft pick of the Browns in the 1954 draft. He didn't play much his, but played Defensive End, Offensive Tackle and Guard his first season. Jim was the full time starter at Left Guard by his 2nd season, and was named to the Sporting News First Team All-NFL. He then would be named to the Pro Bowl five straight seasons between 1958 and 1962. Jim went back to his home state of Texas in 1963, when he played for Dallas. He retired after the following season.
"Mr. Perfecton" was his nickname. Lindell was an 11th round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1944. Lin had played under Hall of Fame Head Coach Paul Brown since high school at Massillon High School in Ohio. He played under Brown at Ohio State as well. He signed with the fledgling Browns in the AAFC in 1944, and waited for the teams inception in 1946. Known for his technical expertise, Houston was part of a Browns team that played in a Championship game in all 8 years of his NFL career, winning 5. You could easily put JOHN WOOTEN, the 2 time Pro Bowler, in this spot. I liked the fact that this guy was a original Brown from the beginning. A true Brownie as far as coach and team.
Tom was a 5th round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1972. He came to Cleveland in 1974, and earned the starting job in 1975. Tom would then start every game until 1983. DeLeone lost his starters job that year, then retired after 1984. He made the Pro Bowl teams in both 1979 and 1980. He may not be on Browns Hall of Fame Center Frank Gatski's level, but he was very good for many years in Cleveland.
Don was a 3rd round draft pick of the Browns in 1967. He handled both the place kicking and punting duties for the first nine years of his career. Don scored a career high 100 points in his rookie year as the Browns kicker. He followed that up with 81 points the next year. As a punter, he averaged 37.5 yards per punt over the course of those two seasons. In 1970, Don punted the longest punt of his career, 71 yards, while averaging 42.6 yards per punt. He led the NFL in punting yardage in 1972, when he averaged a career best 43.2 yards per punt. By the time Cockroft stopped punting, he had a career average of 40.3 yards per punt. He also suffered 9 punt blocks in his career, with a high of 3 in his last year as a full time punter. He focused just on kicking from 1077 to 1980, the year he retired. Don missed 5 extra points in his career, and 112 FGA's. He ended up scoring 1,080 points for the Browns in 13 years. He also completed 2 of his 3 career passing attempts as well. He led the NFL in Field Goal Percentage in 1968, 1972, and 1974. His 45 Extra Points Attempts and Conversions led the NFL in 1969. His numbers as a place kicker are actually much better than Browns Hall of Famer Lou "The Toe" Groza. It would be no stretch saying that Don Cockroft is one of the best punters in Cleveland Browns history, or the best Kicker ever in Browns history.
Collins and Cockroft deserve this spot, but I'll let another guy get this spot, and deservedly so. Gillom was a free agent pick up by the Browns before the 1947 season, after serving in the Army in WW2. Like Collins, Horace played Wide Receiver also. He also played some Defensive End throughout his career, but he was mostly the Browns primary punter. Gillom averaged 44.6 yards per punt in his rookie year. He also collected the only interception of his career, returning it 29 yards. Horace only punted 6 times the following season, but did catch 20 passes. He also scored the first touchdown of his career that season. Gillom led the AAFC in punts with 54 in 1949. He also snatched a career high 23 passes and had a career high 359 yards on receptions. In 1950, he punted 66 times and averaged 43.2 yards per punt. He also boomed one punt 75 yards. Horace returned a fumble recovery 39 yards for a touchdown in 1951, while leading the NFL in punting average with 45.5 yards per punt. His 3,321 yards punting also led the NFL. Gillom enjoyed his lone Pro Bowl year in 1952. Once again, he led the NFL in punting average with 45.7 yards pert punt. His 73 yard punt was the longest in the NFL that year. He also managed to score that last touchdown of his career on 4 receptions. He punted the long punt of his career, 80 yards in 1954. He then led the NFL in punting average with 44.7 yards per punt in 1956. He retired after that season. Horace did get to catch 74 passes, and intercept 1 pass, along with 4 fumble recoveries in his career. The Browns won the AAFC Championships from 1947 to 1949 in Gilloms era. Cleveland also won the NFL Championship in 1950, 1954, and 1955 while Horace was a Brown. He finished in the top ten of his league in punting average, and number of punts every year of his career. Horace was in the top ten in punting yardage in 8 of his nine seasons. He was in the top ten in longest punts in five of his nine seasons. Gillom finished his career with a very impressive career average of 43.1 yards per punt. Factor in his leading the NFL in punting 3 times, Horace Gillom is the greatest punter in Cleveland Browns history.
Eric was a first round draft pick by the Browns in 1989. He did return a few kicks his rookie year, but was primarily utilized at Halfback. He ran for a career high 633 yards on a career high 187 carries. He also scored for a career high 10 touchdowns, to go with 51 receptions. He also completed the only pass of his career that year, for a 32 yard touchdown. Eric only carried the ball 183 total times over the next three seasons, but did catch 133 passes over that time. He led the NFL with 52 kick returns, 1,052 kick return yards, and 2 touchdowns in 1990. He returned one for a career long 101 yards. Eric never returned a kickoff for a touchdown again in his career. In 1991, Cleveland decided to let Eric return punts. He was spotted that year, with 12 returns. He became the Browns full time punt return specialist the next season, and stopped returning kicks for Cleveland. He led the NFL with 44 punt returns that year, and took one for a touchdown. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1993, when he led the NFL with 2 punt returns for touchdowns. One of his touchdowns came on a 91 yard return. His 12.9 yards per punt return was his career high. Eric also carried the ball 129 times for 611 yards that year, and caught 63 passes. Eric returned to the Pro Bowl the next season, as he led the NFL again with 2 punt returns for touchdowns. He took one punt for a career long 92 yards. Metcalf ended up playing for the Atlanta Falcons in 1995. He led the NFL again in punt return touchdowns, while also catching a career high 104 passes for a career high 1,189 yards. He also scored 9 times on offense. Eic played for San Diego in 1997, and made his last Pro Bowl team. He led the NFL with 3 punt return touchdowns. He played for Arizona and Carolina in each of the next two seasons. After not playing in the NFL in 2000, Eric signed with the Washing Redskins in 2001. There, he scored for the last time in his career, when he took a punt for a league leading 89 yards. He did end up playing one game for Green Bay in 2002, but retired shortly thereafter. Erics 10 punt return touchdowns are the most in NFL history, and his 12 total return touchdowns are second in NFL history. He also caught 541 passes in his 13 year career, to go with 55 total touchdowns. His 17,230 total yards from scrimmage is in the top 15 in NFL history.