These are the players who caught on quick. Here, we are breaking down the greatest Rams receivers ever.
A listing of the greatest Ram wide receivers (with one exception, you’ll see) is a pass down memory lane in Rams history. Remember, this is a franchise with its roots in Cleveland, then Los Angeles, then Anaheim, then St. Louis and now back to Los Angeles.
Every time I do a list like this I am reminded as to how much the game of football has changed. There are players on his list who were listed as “split ends” because that was the early term for wide receiver, and it was shocking if you had two on the same play. Now, (hint, hint) running backs act like wide receivers and today’s Rams come out with four and five wide receivers on each play.
These are the Ram receivers who are the best of all time.
10. Drew Hill
This is the one whiff on the list.
Hill was a 12th Round pick out of Georgia Tech for the Rams in 1979. He played four seasons for the blue and gold, missing 1983 with an injury.
With the Rams he was used as a kick returner, and he led them with almost 28 yards a touch. But the Rams didn’t know what they had.
Hill left the Rams after the 1984 season and went to the Houston Oilers, joining their receiving corps and blossoming into a superstar. In Houston, he went over 1,000 yards five times, made the Pro Bowl twice. He finished his career with 9,831 yards, just 1,347 of that with the Rams.
9. Marshall Faulk
Receiver….or wide receiver?
Listen, this is my list and I will interpret as I see fit. And be honest, isn’t Marshall Faulk one of the best wide receivers in Rams history, even if his listed position was running back?
Let’s just look at his Rams career…as a receiver. In 1999, he led the Rams in catches (87) and was second in receiving yards (1,048) and the Rams won the Lombardi. The next year, he was third on the team in catches and yards. In 2001, another Super Bowl year, he led the Rams in catches with 83.
I’ll keep going. In 2002, Faulk had 80 catches, second most on the Rams. In 2003, playing in only 11 games he was fourth on the team in catches.
Faulk is in the Hall of Fame. He’s a seven-time Pro Bowl choice and NFL MVP in 2000. His career yards from scrimmage (19,154) ranks eighth all-time in NFL history. He’s a receiver.
8. Flipper Anderson
Willie “Flipper” Anderson was given the nickname by a family member who said his crying sounded like the TV show dolphin is the answer to an incredible trivia question.
Who holds the records for most yards receiving in a single game?
It’s not Cooper Kupp, or Calvin Johnson or Jerry Rice. It’s Anderson, who had 336 yards in a Sunday night win over the Saints in 1989.
Anderson was the deep threat for the Rams from 1988-1994, while Henry Ellard (we will get to him) was the possession guy. He never had more than 51 catches in a season, but he twice led the NFL in yards per catch. His 5,246 career yards as a Ram rank eighth all time in franchise history.
7. Jack Snow
Snow was drafted by the Vikings in the first round in 1965 and then shipped over to the Rams. He formed a great connection with Rams QB Roman Gabriel and was sort of the Flipper Anderson of his day – a deep threat.
I’ve written about this in the past, but his one Pro Bowl year was in 1967 when the Rams had the best record in the NFL at 11-1-2, but because home games in the playoffs were rotated around (not based on record) the Rams had to go to Green Bay and play the Packers. The Rams choked and lost to Green Bay 28-7 and the Packers won Super Bowl II.
Snow finished with 6,012 yards in his Ram career and 45 touchdowns. Baseball fans know him as the father of former Angels star J.T. Snow.
6. Elroy Hirsch
Owner of one of the greatest nicknames of the early NFL, Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch was called that because of his flailing leg running style. He was drafted by the Cleveland Rams in 1945, but didn’t play much his first four years. Then Bob Waterfield showed up at quarterback and the Rams became the best team in the NFL, winning the NFL title in 1951.
Crazylegs was named to the 1950s NFL All-Decade team and was the Rams General Manager from 1960-1969. He was put in the NFL Hall of Fame in 1968. He finished with 18.4 yards a catch in his career.
5. Cooper Kupp
How high up should Kupp be on this list? I really wrestled with this one. Kupp had the greatest season a Rams wide receiver ever had in 2021, finishing with 1,947 yards, second most in NFL history.
He was the Super Bowl LVI Most Valuable Player. He’s already fourth in yards in Rams history in 6,329. Currently, he’s on injured reserve, another terrible piece of this 2022 Rams year, but when healthy he is the Rams offense. A few more years and he may be No. 1 on this list, but for now he ranks in the middle.
4. Tom Fears
Forgive my language here, but Tom Fears was a badass.
Fears has one of the best football stories ever. He was drafted by the Rams in 1945 but was serving in the military at the time. He came back, played college football for UCLA for a couple of years (eligibility rules were fluid, what can I say?). Fears finally joined the Rams in 1948 and was a two-way player, a receiver and defensive back.
He’s the first Ram to go over 1,000 yards in a season in 1949, when such a thing was unheard of. Fears was a possession type guy, who could break tackles. He led the NFL in catches three times. He caught the winning TD pass in the 1951 NFL Championship Game (the Super Bowl of its time). And he even kicked extra points.
Fears set an NFL record with 18 catches in one game, and it’s still the third most of all time. Fears made the Hall of Fame in 1970 and went on to coach the Saints for four years. He died in 2000 after a full life.
3. Henry Ellard
I must admit when I first got this assignment, the first name I thought of was Henry Ellard.
Ellard was a second round pick of the Rams in 1983. He was a local product, growing up in Fresno and playing for Fresno State. He started off as a kick returner for the franchise (this was when they ran the ball a lot). Then he became one of the most reliable Ram players ever. Ellard went over 1,000 yards seven times in his career. He made three Pro Bows and was a two-time All-Pro. He was WR1 before such a thing existed.
When he retired – after 17 years, 11 with the Rams – he ranked third all time in NFL history with 13,777 yards. Yet somehow, he’s never even been a finalist for the Hall of Fame. He belongs.
2. Torry Holt
Holt was the missing ingredient in the St. Louis Rams Super Bowl season.
Drafted in 1999 out of NC State, Holt gave the Rams another weapon to go along with No. 1 on our list (and our running back/receiver). He ranks No. 2 in Rams history with 12,660 yards and with 74 touchdowns.
He had two of the biggest seasons in NFL history, with 1,635 yards in 2000 (that ranks 18th all time) and 1,696 in 2003 (11th all time).
Holt had the misfortune of playing on some lousy Ram teams at the end in St. Louis. He made seven Pro Bowls and the All-Decade team for the 2000s. He’s been a Hall of Fame semifinalist nine times.
1. Isaac Bruce
Bruce played for the Los Angeles Rams as a rookie, and then became an icon in St. Louis when the team shifted there. He is No. 1 in franchise history with 14,109 yards and 84 scores. He set a then-franchise record in 1995 with 1,781 yards (broken by Kupp).
My favorite part of that 1995 season? The Ram quarterbacks were the forgettable Chris Miller and broken-down Mark Rypien.
When the Greatest Show on Turf broke out in St. Louis, Bruce was the catalyst. He caught the game-winning TD pass in Super Bowl XXXIV. Bruce played 14 years with the Rams, two with San Francisco. He retired in 2010 as the last link to the first Los Angeles Rams team. He was put in the Hall of Fame in 2020.