To figure out the best Rams players of all time, you’ve got to review some history.
The Rams are a storied NFL franchise that has bounced around from city to city throughout its decorated years.
The team’s journey started in 1936 as the Cleveland Rams, which won the NFL Championship in 1945 before moving to Los Angeles for the next 39 years. LA won the gold in 1951, but ownership decided to travel to its third city — St. Louis — in 1995. There, the franchise won Super Bowl 34 in the 1999 season.
After spending 21 seasons in Missouri, the Rams returned back to Los Angeles in 2016 and won the Super Bowl in 2021.
Many outstanding players have donned the horns along the Rams’ 86-year road trip. These stars, regardless of position, not only dominated the sport during their era, but also contributed to the NFL’s legacy.
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In honor of the Rams’ Super Bowl win this past season, we decided to dig deep into the team’s history and rank the top five Rams players of all time. If you like history, then you’ll surely love what you’re about to read, because we highlight players dating back to the pre-Super Bowl era.
We took many factors into account when stacking up these players, including stats, accolades, and dominance over their era and position. Be mindful that this isn’t a ranking of the best players who just so happen to have played on the Rams. We disregarded stats and accomplishments in non-Rams seasons because this isn’t an overall career achievement ranking.
This is all about what these guys accomplished as Rams.
Honorable Mention: Kurt Warner, QB (1998-2003)
Believe me, leaving Kurt Warner out of the top five was painful. But it was justified when you consider the rest of the competition.
As a mini-shoutout, though, Warner was an undrafted free agent to begin his NFL career, but wound up becoming a two-time MVP and a Super Bowl MVP during his brief tenure with the Rams. He also led the league in multiple categories, and was the quarterback of one of the most proficient offenses in NFL history (more on that to come).
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5. Eric Dickerson, RB (1983-1987)
Eric Dickerson was neck and neck with Warner for the No. 5 spot, but the former arguably accomplished more at his position — in fewer seasons, too — than the latter did at his.
Dickerson played just five of his 11 NFL seasons with the Rams, but boy did he make those five seasons count. He hit the ground running by totaling an NFL rookie-season record 1,808 rushing yards, and locking up Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl, and All-Pro honors in the process.
He followed his record-setting rookie campaign by running for an NFL-record 2,105 yards, which has yet to be eclipsed. The 1986 Offensive Player of the Year had five first-team All-Pro and five Pro Bowl appearances in five seasons with the Rams.
It’s fitting that Dickerson was drafted by the Ram because he sure ran like one. The workhorse back averaged 111.5 rushing yards per contest — which would be the highest career average — on 4.8 yards per carry. He also won the rushing title four times and led the league in rushing yards per game five times.
Dickerson would’ve ranked better on the list if he spent more than five seasons with the team. Longevity aside, his record-breaking talent is undeniable and he deserves to be ranked among his fellow all-time great Rams.
4. Merlin Olsen, DT (1962-1976)
Old-timers remember Merlin Olsen as a key pillar for the scariest defensive line in football history — the Fearsome Foursome. The 10-time All-Pro defensive tackle wasn’t as dominant at pressuring the quarterback as teammate Deacon Jones (you’ll read why soon), but he was arguably the glue that held the line together during his entire 15-year career with the Rams.
Olsen was a talented defensive specimen during his time, but the key to his yearly consistency was his durability. The 1962 Rookie of the Year missed just two of a possible 210 games during his 15 years in the league, which awarded him with an NFL-record 14-straight Pro Bowl selections — the most selections by a defensive player.
3. Marshall Faulk, RB (1999-2005)
As dynamic as modern-day backs Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara are, Marshall Faulk set the trend for the running backs to dominate both as a runner and receiver. The do-it-all back led the league in rushing yards per attempt (three times), yards from scrimmage (twice), rushing touchdowns (once), and rushing yards per game (once). He’s also one of just three players to hit 1,000 yards — both rushing and receiving — in a single season.
Faulk spent five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, but he experienced his golden years in St. Louis. The world-class running back earned three consecutive first-team All-Pro selections, won three consecutive Offensive Player of the Year awards, and was an MVP.
The Hall of Famer gets the edge over Dickerson in the rankings for one simple reason. Without Faulk, the 1999–2001 Rams wouldn’t have been nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf” and wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl in 1999. Being the driving force of a championship team profoundly enhances a player’s greatness and legacy, especially when the franchise has just one other Lombardi Trophy like the Rams.
2. Deacon Jones, DE (1961-1971)
Ever wonder who coined the term “sack”? You can thank Deacon Jones for that one.
The 1960s sack artist was a menace to opposing offenses. He led the league in sacks five times (unofficial NFL record) and headed the Fearsome Foursome. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year also was selected to seven Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams as a Ram.
Since sacks didn’t become an official stat until 1982, Jones’ three separate seasons of 20-plus sacks — and his 159.5 sacks as a Ram (173.5 total) — aren’t in official NFL record books. However, the NFL and its historians still recognize Jones as one of the premier pass-rushers to ever grace the football field, so much so that the league named the sacks title after him. The Hall of Fame defensive end retired nearly half a century ago, yet his name still gets recognized every time a player wins the sacks award.
Alas, he was never able to deliver a championship to the Rams organization.
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1. Aaron Donald, DT (2014-Present)
No other player since 2014 has been more consistently dominant at his respective position than No. 99 of the Los Angeles Rams. Aaron Donald is not only the greatest Ram of all time, but he’s also widely considered as the greatest defensive player in NFL history.
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has been a model of perfection from his Rookie of the Year season to now. He’s earned Pro Bowl honors in all of his eight seasons, and has seven first-team All-Pro selections. The defensive tackle also led the league in sacks once (2018) and in tackles for loss twice (2018 and 2019), all while fighting off double-teams — and sometimes even triple-teams.
The last puzzle piece to Donald’s Hall of Fame-bound career was a Super Bowl ring, which he fulfilled after leading his team to a championship in 2021. The 31-year-old has shown no sign of regression, and likely has a few more prime seasons left in the tank, which will only widen the gap between himself and his fellow all-time great Rams.