Hester, Cribbs provide many happy returns

Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs head a crowded field of the NFL's most effective return specialists, as seen by John Clayton..

Originally Published: February 9, 2008
By John Clayton |

HONOLULU -- Pro Bowls can be a showcase for return specialists. Starters who never played special teams are asked to play on those units, and can create several big plays. But who are the top 10 returners in football? Here's the list.

Clayton's Top 10 Return Specialists

Rank Player
1. Devin Hester, Chicago Bears
Can you come up with a better player than this? He's instant offense for the Bears. He can break a long run for a touchdown at any time.
2. Joshua Cribbs, Cleveland Browns
Cribbs can do it all as a returner. He's as good a punt returner as he is a kickoff returner. Every season, he could be good for 2,000 combined yards.
3. Leon Washington, N.Y. Jets
He was the first alternate for the AFC as the returner. He's particularly dangerous on kickoffs.
4. Darren Sproles, San Diego Chargers
The 5-foot-6 Sproles is electric when he gets the ball in return situations.
5. Ted Ginn Jr., Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins took a lot of criticism for taking him over Brady Quinn in the 2007 draft, but he can break big plays on returns.
6. Rock Cartwright, Washington Redskins
Rock was rock solid on kickoff returns, ranking second in the league with a 25.8-yard average.
7. Nate Burleson, Seattle Seahawks
To help the team a couple of years ago, Burleson volunteered to be a returner. He's one of the most dangerous in the game on punts.
8. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
The powerful, compact running back is hard to stop on any unit -- offense or special teams.
9. Roscoe Parrish, Buffalo Bills
The Bills' wide receiver led the NFL with a 16.2-yard punt return average.
10. Dante' Hall, St. Louis Rams
At 29, Hall might be an oldie, but he still can be a goodie.

John Clayton, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame writers' wing, is a senior writer for

John Clayton

NFL senior writer