Cleveland Browns History: Top 10 Receivers of All-Time
The Cleveland Browns have a rich history dating back to the franchise's establishment in 1946.
Among the many great players to have donned the orange and brown are ten receivers who had a profound impact on the success of the team, and in some instances even the game itself.
Following are my picks for the top ten Browns receivers in history. I chose not to limit this list strictly to wide receivers because two of the best past catchers in team history were tight ends.
Because it is so difficult to compare players from different eras in football, I chose these ten based only in part on their statistics, and mostly based my decisions on what they contributed to the team.
Please share your thoughts on any other players who you think deserve to make the list in the comments below!
Dave Logan, WR
10. Dave Logan spent eight of his nine season in the NFL (1976-1983) with the Browns as a wide receiver; boasting the ninth-highest total for receiving yards in Cleveland history with 4,247.
Logan's best season was 1979, when he posted 59 receptions, 982 yards, and seven touchdowns.
Interestingly, in addition to being drafted into the NFL after college, Logan was also drafted for the NBA (Sacramento Kings) and MLB (Cincinnati Reds), joining former MLB great Dave Winfield as the only players ever to be drafted for three major professional sports.
Reggie Rucker, WR
9. Reggie Rucker began his career with the Dallas Cowboys in 1970 and also spent time with two other franchises before joining the Browns in 1975. He spent most of his career in Cleveland (1975-1981) and eventually retired a Brown.
Rucker's best season was with the Browns in 1978, when he had 43 receptions, 893 yards, and eight touchdowns.
Rucker had 4,953 yards, 310 receptions, and 32 touchdowns in his seven seasons with the Browns.
Rucker, who played alongside other great Browns' pass catchers Dave Logan and Ozzie Newsome, was a popular figure in Cleveland even after his career ended. He briefly did color commentary for the Indians in the early 1980s and is now a local TV analyst for the Browns.
Milt Morin, TE
8. Tight end Milt Morin spent his entire ten season career with the Browns, from 1966 to 1975.
A first round draft pick and two-time pro bowler, he was touted by his teammates for being able to function as both a receiving and blocking tight end before that became the standard for the position.
Morin had 4,208 career yards, and had his best season in 1968 with 43 receptions, 792 yards, and five touchdowns.
Sadly, Morin passed away yesterday, July 12, 2010, at age 67.
Webster Slaughter, WR
7. Webster Slaughter was drafted by and spent the first half of his career with the Browns, from 1986 to 1991.
A critical member of the great Browns lineups from the mid-late 1980s, Slaughter caught 305 passes, scored 27 touchdowns, and posted 4,834 yards in his six seasons with the franchise.
Slaughter saw his best season in 1989, posting 65 receptions, 1,236 yards and six touchdowns and starting in the Pro Bowl. His 1,236 yard season was a franchise record until Braylon Edwards broke it with 1,289 yards in 2007.
Former Browns General Manager Ernie Accorsi called Slaughter, who averaged 19 yards per reception during his tenure with the team, "one of the best receivers the Browns ever had".
Gary Collins, WR and P
6. 1962 First Round draft pick Gary Collins racked up 5,299 receiving yards for the Browns from 1962 to 1971.
Though his best season was in 1966 when he had 56 receptions, 946 yards, and 12 touchdowns, Collins' most memorable feat came in the 1964 Championship Game when he pulled down three passes for touchdowns.
Collins holds the team record for career receiving touchdowns (70) and receiving touchdowns in one season (13, 1963).
Perhaps most interesting, Collins was also the team's punter, and a pretty good one to boot (pun intended), averaging a respectable 41.1 yards-per-attempt.
Collins is a member of the Browns Legends, but has never been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though many argue that he belongs there.
Ray Renfro, WR
5. The Browns drafted Ray Renfro in the fourth round of the 1952 draft. He began his career as a punt returner, but would eventually establish himself as a member of the Browns' pantheon of top-notch receivers.
During his career with the Browns from 1952 to 1963, Renfro amassed 5,508 career yards, good for fourth all time in the team's record book.
Renfro's best year came in 1961, when he had 48 receptions, 834 yards, and six touchdowns.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Renfro retired with 50 career touchdowns and 281 receptions with a yards-per-gain average of 19.6. He also boasts four rushing touchdowns and 682 rushing yards in his career.
Mac Speedie, Left End
4. Mac Speedie joined the Browns in 1946, originally as a defensive end. He was quickly converted to left end, and teamed up with fellow end Dante Lavelli to form one of the league's most intimidating receiving duos of the era.
The aptly-named Speedie was a five-time Pro Bowl selectee during his career with the Browns (1946-1952), and racked up 5,602 career yards, an already impressive total which only becomes more so when one considers that he and Lavelli were on the team at the same time.
His best season was in 1947, when he had 67 receptions, 1,146 yards, and six touchdowns. He led the AAFC in receiving yards three times and led the team in receptions during five different seasons.
Speedie was a Hall of Fame finalist in 1970 and 1972, and a senior candidate in 1983, but was never enshrined.
Dante Lavelli, Right End
3. A favorite target of the great Otto Graham and a disciple of coaching legend Paul Brown, Dante Lavelli had a career that puts him in the running for the greatest Browns receiver of all time.
Lavelli, an end for the Ohio State team before he turned pro (though he only played three games there before leaving to join the U.S. Army), spent his entire 11 year professional career with the Browns from 1946 to 1956.
Known by the illustrative sobriquet "Gluefingers", Lavelli had 6,488 career yards, 386 receptions, and 62 touchdowns.
His best season was his rookie year in 1946, when he had 40 receptions, 843 yards, and an NFL leading 21.1 yards/reception. He went on to be named to the All-AAFC team twice, the All-NFL team twice, and three Pro Bowls.
Lavelli was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1975.
Paul Warfield, WR
2. The great Paul Warfield, drafted by the Browns in 1964, may be the franchise's greatest receiver of all time.
Warfield's numbers are impressive: 5,210 career yards, 271 receptions, and 52 touchdowns with the Browns, and and an additional 3,355 yards, 156 receptions, and 33 TDs during a five-year hiatus from the Browns with Miami in the middle of his 13-year career. He also had a 20.1 YPG career average.
What is perhaps more impressive about Warfield than his stats though is how much impact he had on a given game just by being on the field. His presence forced defenses to make adjustments and allowed him to draw double coverage, clearing a path for the legendary Jim Brown's ground game.
Warfield was one of the fastest receivers in the game at the time, was a huge long-ball threat, and also an excellent blocker.
A six-time All-NFL team player and an eight-time Pro Bowl selectee, Warfield was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
Ozzie Newsome, TE
1. Ozzie Newsome, nicknamed "The Wizard of Oz", is the Browns all-time leader in receiving yards and perhaps the team's best receiver in history.
Newsome played 13 seasons with Cleveland from 1978 - 1990, a rare example of a player who spent his whole career with the same team in an era where that was no longer par for the course.
Newsome was an All-Pro in 1979 and 1984 and a three time Pro Bowler. His 7,980 reception yards are the most by any Browns player in history, and was the highest total for any tight end in NFL history at the time of Newsome's retirement.
Newsome also had 662 career receptions and 47 career touchdowns. He caught passes in 150 consecutive games (the longest streak in the NFL at the time), and won the Ed Block Courage Award in 1986 for playing through injuries.
Perhaps most impressive, Newsome almost never fumbled. He had just three fumbles in his entire career, and zero after his third year in the league, leaving him with 10 straight seasons without a single one.
Newsome, not just the greatest pass receiver in Browns history but arguably the greatest tight end of all time, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.