Originally out of Cleveland, the Los Angeles Rams are a franchise that has been around the country quite a bit, relocating an NFL-most five times. In fact, only two NFL franchises can say they have played home games at more stadiums (seven) than the Rams. A team with this much history is bound to have dozens of great players which can make the building of an all-franchise team quite difficult.
From 1936 to 2018, the Rams have an overall record of 555-559-21 with three total championships, including one Super Bowl victory in 2000. From the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ to the ‘Fearsome Foursome’ and more, here is the all-franchise team for the Los Angeles Rams.
Head Coach: Chuck Knox (1973-1977, 1992-1994)
Anybody but Jeff Fisher, right? Like most franchises that have been around for awhile, the Rams have a few great head coaches in their history. Despite never winning a championship, Chuck Knox will go down as one of the franchise’s best coaches. In his first stint with the Rams during the 1970’s, Knox took over a team that finished 6-7-1 in the prior year. In his first season as head coach, Knox led the team to a 12-2 record and implemented an offensive scheme that helped the Rams finish as the highest scoring team in 1973. That same year, Knox was voted NFL Coach of the Year.
The following four seasons, Knox led the Rams to four straight division titles and, from ’74-’76, made three straight appearances in the NFC championship game. Knox will also be remembered for making the bold move to trade starting quarterback John Hadl during the season and then start his backup James Harris, who later that year became the first African-American quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game. In 1978 Knox left Los Angeles to coach the Buffalo Bills but made his return to the franchise in 1992 looking to recapture some of the magic he had earlier with the franchise. He ultimately failed to do so finishing last in the NFC West for three straight seasons. Knox’s 69 career wins with the franchise is good for second most all-time in Rams history.
Quarterback: Kurt Warner (1998-2003)
Who doesn’t love a rags-to-riches story? After going undrafted and struggling to make an NFL roster, Kurt Warner was working at a local supermarket in Cedar Falls, Iowa. After serving as the Rams third-string quarterback in 1998, Warner got his chance to start in 1999 after Trent Green – the then starter – tore his ACL in a preseason game. Warner went on to tear the league apart and threw for a miraculous 4,353 yards, 41 touchdowns and 65.1% completion percentage in his first season. Warner was eventually named NFL MVP and led the Rams to a 23-16 Super Bowl XXXIV victory over the Tennessee Titans, winning Super Bowl MVP in the process.
Warner and the Rams offense were nicknamed ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ because of their explosive capabilities to run and throw the ball. Warner led the team to another Super Bowl appearance in 2002 against the New England Patriots, where they were defeated 20-17. After back-to-back years filled with injuries, Warner was eventually released by the Rams in 2004. His 14,447 passing yards ranks fifth all-time in franchise history and he still holds the franchise record for most passing yards (4,353), passing touchdowns (41) and completion percentage (68.7) in a single-season.
Running Back: Eric Dickerson (1983-1987)
No team has a better running back history than the Rams because guys like Marshall Faulk, Jerome Bettis, Steven Jackson and most recently Todd Gurley all have had marvelous careers in a Rams uniform. But there can only be one running back for the all-franchise team, and Eric Dickerson has to be that guy.
The legend of Dickerson begins with him getting selected second overall by the Rams in the 1983 draft. Dickerson went on to put up stellar numbers and set the rookie record for most rushing yards (1,808) and rushing touchdowns (18). While they were impressive numbers, Dickerson never settled and the following year, he set the NFL record for most rushing yards in a season with 2,105 yards, a record that still stands to this day. He broke OJ Simpson’s previous record by recording 12, 100+ rushing yard games in that 1984 season. Dickerson went on to receive first team all-pro honors four times with the Rams and is second in franchise history with 7,245 rushing yards. He was eventually traded during the 1987 season after the Rams and Dickerson failed to agree to terms in what could be the worst trade in franchise history.
Wide Receiver: Isaac Bruce (1994-2007)
Fortunately, there are three receiver slots for receivers on this list. Isaac Bruce is well-deserving of this list as he ranks first all-time in Rams history with 942 receptions, 14,109 receiving yards and 84 receiving touchdowns. He is a four-time pro bowler and his 197 career games played for the franchise ranks sixth all-time in Rams history. Bruce did not have lights out speed, but he was an exceptional route-runner and knew how to use his body to shield off defenders. In his second NFL season, Bruce burst onto the scene with 119 receptions and 13 touchdowns. The following year in 1996, he led the league with 1,338 receiving yards and went on to have eight 1,000+ receiving yard seasons during his tenure with the Rams.
Wide Receiver: Torry Holt (1999-2008)
Unlike Bruce, Torry Holt was an absolute speed demon on the football field. He was drafted by the Rams sixth overall in the 1999 draft and went on to play 10 years with the franchise. He ranks second all-time in franchise history with 12,660 receiving yards, 869 receptions and 74 receiving touchdowns. Much like Bruce, Holt had a breakout second season hauling in 82 receptions and 1,635 receiving yards in 2000. He posted eight consecutive 1,000+ receiving yard seasons from 2000-2007 and had a career-high 117 receptions and 1,696 yards in 2003. Holt and Bruce, along with Warner combined to be one of the most feared passing units in NFL history and were nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf” during the early 2000s.
Wide Receiver: Henry Ellard (1983-1993)
Before Bruce and Holt came along, Henry Ellard was considered to be the greatest Rams receiver in the franchise’s history. He sits third all-time in receiving yards (9,671), receptions (593) and is fourth in receiving touchdowns with 48. Ellard received first team All-Pro honors two different times, once in 1984 as a return man, and again in 1988 as a receiver. That 1988 season was the best of Ellard’s career as he totaled a career-high 86 receptions, 1,414 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns. He went on to play 11 seasons with the Rams before signing with the Washington Redskins in free agency.
Tight End: Tom Fears (1948-1956)
One might assume that a franchise’s greatest tight end might be one from the modern era, but the Rams greatest tight end played 50 years before the position was heavily used in passing attacks. Tom Fears served in the military during World War II before joining the Rams in 1948. Fears was a precise route runner over the middle and led the league in receptions his first three seasons in the league. He was received first team All-Pro honors in 1950 after recording a league-high 1,116 receiving yards and 84 receptions and that was back when the regular season was 12 games. Fears’ 400 career receptions are good for sixth all-time in Rams history and he was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1970.
Left Tackle: Orlando Pace (1997-2008)
While Warner, Holt, Bruce and Faulk may have gotten most of the credit for “The Greatest Show on Turf” teams, Orlando Pace was doing a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes, creating running holes and neutralizing pass rushers on the left side. Pace stood at 6’7″ 325 pounds and was an absolute force on the line of scrimmage. Like most linemen, Pace went underappreciated because there aren’t too many stats for blocking. He did, however, reach seven straight pro bowls from 1999-2005 and was named first team all-pro in 1999, 2001 and 2003.
Left Guard: Tom Mack (1966-1978)
Tom Mack was drafted second overall by the Rams in the 1966 draft. After getting a handful of spot-starts in his first two years due to injuries, he took over the starting left guard position in 1968 and never looked back. He was voted to 11 Pro Bowls in his 13-year career and holds the record for most consecutive games played by an offensive player (184) in Rams franchise history. Mack was eventually voted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 and is the only player from the 1966 draft to accomplish the feat.
Center: Rich Saul (1970-1981)
Like Mack, Rich Saul was another lifetime Ram. For the first five seasons of his career, Saul served predominantly as a swing lineman making only one start and playing everything from guard, tackle and even a little bit of tight end. He eventually took over the starting center job in 1975 and started every game there until his retirement in 1981. Saul was voted to the Pro Bowl the last six seasons of his career as he aged like fine wine.
Right Guard: Dennis Harrah (1975-1987)
Dennis Harrah was the 11th overall pick in 1975 and sat behind Joe Scibelli for one season before taking over the starting spot at right guard. From 1976-1987, Harrah was voted team captain for six seasons, made six pro bowls and was named first team all-pro in 1986.
Right Tackle: Jackie Slater (1976-1995)
Jackie Slater might not just be the greatest Rams linemen of all-time, but many consider him the greatest lineman in NFL history. Slater was drafted in the third round in 1976 and served as a backup his first three seasons. He was selected to the Pro Bowl seven of his 20 seasons blocking for great running backs such as Dickerson, Wendell Tyler, Cullen Bryant, Greg Bell and Bettis. His 259 games played is the most all-time in Rams history and he was eventually elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001. There are not enough words to describe how special and dominant of an offensive linemen Slater was on that right side.
Defensive End: Jack Youngblood (1971-1984)
The Rams have a plethora of great defensive linemen in their history but few were better than Jack Youngblood. Youngblood stood at 6’4″ 245 pounds during his playing days, which was considered undersized for a defensive end. However, he used his quickness to gain leverage on bigger offensive linemen to disrupt plays in the backfield. Youngblood started as a backup for Deacon Jones his rookie year and wound up taking over for him in the second installment of the “Fearsome Foursome.” He helped the Rams win seven straight division titles from 1973-1979 and finished his career with 151.5 sacks, good for second all-time in franchise history.
Youngblood received first team All-Pro honors five times in the 1970’s, was elected to seven straight Pro Bowls and he was named the defensive player of the year in 1975 and 1976. One of his most memorable career moments is when he played the entire 1979 playoffs, including Super Bowl XIV, with a broken fibula. In his 14-year career, Youngblood played 202 games with the Rams, which is good for fourth all-time, and he holds the franchise record for most career playoff sacks (8.5). Youngblood still holds the NFL record for most consecutive starts by a defensive end (184).
Defensive Tackle: Merlin Olsen (1962-1976)
Merlin Olsen ranks second all-time in games played for the Rams (208) and was a key component of both the first and second installment of the “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line group that dominated much of the 1960s and 70s. Coming out of college, Olsen was a first-round draft pick two different times, being selected by the Rams in the NFL draft and then getting selected by the Denver Broncos in the AFL draft.
Olsen wound up choosing the Rams and spent his entire 15-year career with the franchise. Olsen won Rookie of the year in 1962, went on to get selected to 14 straight Pro Bowls (an NFL record) and received first team All-Pro honors in 1964 and from 1966-1970. Olsen was eventually elected into the hall of fame in 1982 and is often considered to be one of the greatest defensive tackles in Rams history.
Defensive Tackle: Aaron Donald (2014-Present)
He’s only been in the league since 2014, but Aaron Donald is one of the best defensive tackles the NFL has ever seen. Despite only playing four years, he has been nominated for the Pro Bowl every season and received first team All-Pro honors in three of those seasons. Much like Youngblood, Donald is considered undersized for his position standing at 6’1″ 280 pounds.
But Donald has astonishing strength and combines that with a killer set of hand moves that allows him to disrupt plays in the backfield. Through four seasons he has compiled 148 tackles and 39 sacks and won the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year award. When Donald is blocked one-on-one, he makes a mockery of some of the best interior linemen in the NFL.
Defensive End: Deacon Jones (1961-1971)
Another member of the “Fearsome Foursome” makes the list and for good reason. Deacon Jones is the franchise leader in career sacks with 159.5, after playing 11 seasons with the Rams. It is only fitting that one of the NFL’s best sack artists actually helped coin the statistic “sack,” saying that a sack devastates an offense the same way a city is devastated after being sacked.
Jones received first team All-Pro honors for five straight seasons from 1965-1969 and was nominated to seven Pro Bowls during his tenure with the Rams. While the stats are unofficial because sacks weren’t recorded back then like they are today, Jones had three seasons of 20+ sacks and his former head coach in Washington, George Allen, called him the best defensive end of all-time.
Outside Linebacker: Roman Phifer (1991-1998)
Roman Phifer was selected in the second round by the Rams in 1991 and went on to play 120 career games for the franchise. He sits second all-time with 696 tackles and led the team in tackles three different seasons (1993, 1995, 1996). Phifer had a versatile skillset playing the traditional ‘Will’ linebacker in the Rams 4-3 defense his first five seasons and then played the ‘Jet’ in Bud Carson’s multiple front defense his last three years. He was asked to pass rush more and went on to record 10 sacks in his last three seasons compared to the 6.5 in his first five. Phifer was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate in both 1995 and 1996.
Inside Linebacker: James Laurinaitis (2009-2015)
James Laurinaitis was considered a steal in the NFL Draft when the Rams selected him 35th overall and he showed the league right away what he could do. He recorded 120 tackles his rookie season to go along with five pass deflections and two sacks. Laurinaitis went on to record 100+ tackles for seven straight seasons and was without a doubt the Rams best defensive player during that era. Laurinaitis went on to finish fifth in the NFL with 142 tackles in 2012 and currently holds the franchise record for most career tackles with 853.
Outside Linebacker: Kevin Greene (1985-1992)
Kevin Greene is not only one of the greatest Rams pass rushers, but his 160 career sacks put him near the top of the NFL all-time list. Greene was originally a fifth-round draft pick and many considered him too small to play defensive end. He was used sparingly in his first three seasons and was predominantly used as a nickel package rusher. Then, in 1988, the Rams switched to a five-linebacker front under defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur and Greene switched to outside linebacker. He was asked to rush the quarterback much more and the position change benefitted him as he went on to record 16.5 sacks both in 1988 and 1989.
In 1990 Greene continued to create pressure and recorded 13 sacks but at the end of the season, the Rams brought in a new defensive coordinator that used the 4-3 front. Greene was asked to play both defensive end and outside linebacker in the scheme and his sack numbers dropped, recording only three sacks in ’91 and 10 sacks in ’92. Greene went on to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1993 because he preferred to play in the 3-4 system. Greene sits 11th all-time in Rams history with 375 tackles and fifth all-time in sacks with 72.5.
Cornerback: Todd Lyght (1991-2000)
Todd Lyght was a first-round draft pick out of Notre Dame and was a staple part of the Rams defense for much of the 90s. In his 10-year stint with the Rams, Lyght recorded multiple interceptions eight of those years and had three or more interceptions six times. He was a cornerback that was not afraid to come and make tackles either. Lyght finished fifth all-time in franchise history with 665 tackles. His 31 interceptions with the Rams is good for fourth all-time and he was a part of the 1999 Super Bowl champion Rams team.
Safety: Eddie Meador (1959-1970)
Eddie Meador was a swiss army knife type of player in college, playing offense, defense and special teams. After being drafted by the Rams, he continued to impact the game in all three phases of the sport but was primarily used as a corner and return specialist. Meador recorded 15 interceptions in his first five seasons at cornerback and made the switch in 1964 to free safety. Meador excelled in his new role as he went on to record 31 interceptions in his final seven seasons. Meador was voted to the Pro Bowl six different times and received first team All-Pro honors twice in 1968 and 1969. Meador’s 46 career interceptions, 10 blocked field goals and 18 fumbles recovered are all good for first all-time in franchise history.
Safety: Nolan Cromwell (1977-1987)
Similar to Meador, Nolan Cromwell was a three-way standout player in college and even saw a bit of action at quarterback for the Kansas Jayhawks. He was drafted by the Rams to solely be a defensive back but in his first two seasons, he rarely saw the field. In his third season, Cromwell made the switch to safety and eventually won the starting spot.
He recorded five interceptions in 1979 and followed that up with eight interceptions in 1980. In 1980 Cromwell was selected to his first Pro Bowl and he received first team All-Pro honors, a feat that he accomplished the following two seasons as well. He finished his career ranked 15th all-time in franchise history in games played (161), second in interceptions (37) and first in interception return yards (671).
Cornerback: LeRoy Irvin (1980-1989)
LeRoy Irvin was a teammate of Cromwell’s and like Cromwell, Irvin developed into a special defensive back later in his career. But in his first three seasons Irvin was primarily used as a return specialist, recording four punt returns. In 1983, Irvin took over at cornerback full-time and recorded four interceptions.
He followed that up with five interceptions in 1984 and then had back-to-back seasons with six interceptions in 1985 and 1986. In 1986 Irvin was also received first team All-Pro honors as a cornerback (he received first team All-Pro honors as a returner in 1981). Irvin went on to record 34 interceptions (third all-time) with the Rams before leaving to the Detroit Lions in 1990.
Punter: Johnny Hekker (2012-Present)
Since coming into the league in 2012, Johnny Hekker has been one of the best punters in the NFL, averaging 47.1 yards per punt in his career. He was elected to the Pro Bowl and selected to the first team all-pro in 2013 and 2015-2017. Hekker averaged a career-high 47.9 yards per punt in 2015 and had his career long (78) in 2016. While he was used less in 2017 because of the Rams success under coach Sean McVay, he is no stranger to running the fake punt. Hekker attempted three passes (completed two of them) last season and has thrown 15 passes in his career.
Kicker: Jeff Wilkins (1997-2007)
Before Greg Zuerlein aka ‘Legatron’ arrived in St Louis, the Rams had a special kicker by the name of Jeff Wilkins. Wilkins currently sits first all-time in franchise history with 265 field goals made. No one was more automatic at making extra points as he only missed one extra point in his entire 11-years stint with the Rams. He made a career-high 39 field goals in 2003 and had his best season percentage-wise, converting on all 17 of his field goals in the 2000 season.
Returner: Vitamin Smith (1949-1953)
Born Verda Thomas Smith Jr., Smith went on to play college football at Abilene Christian. He joined the Rams as an undrafted free agent but made a splash once he joined the team and displayed his return abilities. Smith was only 5’8″ 180 pounds but he had a knack for making people miss in the open field.
In his rookie season, he led the league with 427 punt returns yards and then led the league in kick return yards with 742 in 1950. Smith is one of four players in franchise history to return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown. His average of 25.5 yards per kickoff return ranks fourth all-time in franchise history for those with 50 or more returns.
View the original article on Last Word On Pro Football: Los Angeles Rams All-Franchise Team