Bottom line: Peyton Hillis played in the same backfield at Arkansas as Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, so Hillis was overlooked when he entered the NFL.
He was a little-used fullback in his first two seasons but then joined the Browns in 2010, and injuries propelled him to the top of the depth chart. He ran for 144 yards in his first start and over 100 yards in his second, which cemented him as the team’s starting running back.
He posted over 1,600 yards from scrimmage on the year and became a folk hero, even landing on the cover of Madden the following year.
However, perhaps due to the Madden curse, or rather teams figuring Hillis out, he never came close to the same kind of success. Hillis actually had more yards from scrimmage in the 2010 season than he had over the remainder of his career combined, and he played until 2014.