12 Greatest Receivers for the Los Angeles Rams
Some receivers for the Los Angeles Rams have been among the best in NFL history
All of the players found on this compilation have completed their careers with the Los Angeles Rams, so no current players are on it. Also, please keep in mind the totals for Rams’ yardage and touchdowns only includes that tallied while receiving passes.
Now let’s begin the countdown!
12. Billy Truax
Years for the Rams: 1964 to 1970
College: Louisiana State University
NFL Draft: 2nd round, #26 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 2,177
Total Rams TDs: 16
Billy Truax played tight end for LSU Tigers, primarily blocking for various running backs, though his senior year he caught 10 passes for 100 yards.
When Truax joined the Rams in 1964, he played as a defensive end and tight end and also contributed on special teams. But in 1967 Truax excelled as a receiving tight end, recording 37 receptions for 487 yards and 4 touchdowns; and in 1968, while playing with a broken bone in his left wrist, he grabbed 35 passes for 417 yards and 3 TDs. Then, in 1969, he tallied 37 receptions for 431 yards and 5 TDs.
For the playoffs in 1967, 1969, 1971 and 1972, Truax caught 10 passes for 137 yards and 1 touchdown.
Billy Truax may be the greatest tight end ever for the Los Angeles Rams—or maybe it was Lance Kendricks (2,132 yards, 17 TDs). Who’s your choice?
11. Preston Dennard
Years for the Rams: 1978 to 1983
College: University of New Mexico
NFL Draft: undrafted
Total Rams Yardage: 3,066
Total Rams TDs: 21
Preston Dennard had a tremendous career playing college football. In 1975, Dennard finished third in the country in receiving; and by his senior year he’d broken every receiving record at the University of New Mexico, catching 142 passes for 2,257 yards.
Dennard joined the Rams as a free agent in 1978, playing on special teams, but he soon became a favorite receiver of quarterback Vince Ferragamo. In 1979, Dennard caught 32 passes for 766 yards, helping the Rams advance to the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game in which he caught two passes for 32 yards. Dennard’s best year for the Rams was 1981, when he snagged 49 receptions for 821 yards and 4 TDs.
10. Harold Jackson
Years for the Rams: 1968, 1973 to 1977
College: Jackson State
NFL Draft: 12th round, #323 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 3,591
Total Rams TDs: 36
Harold Jackson was drafted by the LA Rams in 1968 but played in only two games before he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Then, in 1973, Jackson was traded back to the Rams in exchange for Roman Gabriel, who’d lost his QB job to “father time” and John Hadl.
Jackson soon became a star with the Rams, who in 1973 caught 13 receiving touchdowns, helping the Rams win the first of seven straight NFL Western Division titles. Jackson’s greatest game with the Rams was in 1973 when they played against the Dallas Cowboys; he made seven receptions for 238 yards and scored 4 TDs.
When playing for the LA Rams, Jackson was selected to the Pro Bowl three times: 1973, 1975 and 1977. Considering Jackson’s great career achievements—10,372 yards, 579 receptions and 76 TDs—you may wonder why he hasn’t been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
9. Jim Benton
Years for the Rams: 1938 to 1947, except 1941 and 1943
College: Arkansas University
NFL Draft: 2nd round, #11 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 4,566
Total Rams TDs: 42
When Jim Benton began his college football career by joining Arkansas in 1934, he began setting receiving records for the Razorbacks. In 1937, Benton set the NCAA record for receptions with 48 catches, while gaining 814 yards and scoring 7 TDs.
Jim Benton’s greatest year for the Rams was 1945, when he made 45 receptions for 1,087 yards and 8 TDs; his average yardage per game was 118.6 yards, leading the NFL. Then, on Thanksgiving Day against the Detroit Lions, he caught passes for 303 yards, helping the Rams win the division title. And, during the NFL championship game that same year, he had 9 receptions for 125 yards, helping the Rams beat the Washington Redskins 15-14.
Notably, Jim Benton lead the NFL in receiving yards in 1945 (1,067) and 1946 (981) and caught the most TD receptions with 7 in 1939.
8. Jim “Red” Phillips
Years for the Rams: 1958 to 1964
College: Auburn University
NFL Draft: 1st round, #5 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 4,953
Total Rams TDs: 27
Jim Phillips was selected to 11 All-American teams his senior year at Auburn, and he was co-captain on Auburn’s National Championship team in 1957.
When Phillips joined the Rams in 1958, he made a reception good for 93 yards, the longest that season in the NFL. Phillips’ best years for the Rams were 1960 through 1962; each season he was selected to the Pro Bowl. In 1961, he caught 78 passes for 1,092 yards and 5 touchdowns, and in 1962 he made 60 receptions for 875 yards and 5 TDs.
7. Willie “Flipper” Anderson Jr.
Years for the Rams: 1988 to 1994
College: University of California at Los Angeles
NFL Draft: 2nd round, #46 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 5,246
Total Rams TDs: 26
Willie Flipper Anderson played his college football at UCLA, where he was a major target of Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.
Anderson joined the Los Angeles Rams in 1988 and his greatest claim to fame while playing for them occurred in 1989 in a game against the New Orleans Saints, when he tallied 336 yards receiving on 15 receptions and an average per reception of 26 yards per catch! He had his best year for the Rams in 1989, when gained 1,146 yards receiving with 44 receptions and 5 TDs.
Anderson finished his career with the Rams with 267 receptions and an average of 20.1 yards per catch.
6. Tom Fears
Years for the Rams: 1948 to 1956
College: University of California at Los Angeles
NFL Draft: 11th round, #103 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 5,397
Total Rams TDs: 38
Tom Fears, of Mexican American descent, played two seasons with the UCLA Bruins, achieving All-American status both seasons.
Drafted as a defensive back by the Los Angeles Rams, Fears also played at wide receiver, soon establishing that position as his professional football forte. During Fears’ first three seasons he lead the NFL in receptions, breaking the league record with 77 catches in 1949. The following season he broke his own record by snagging 84 receptions, including 18 in one game against the Green Bay Packers. Then, in 1951, Fears helped the Rams win an NFL championship by catching a 73-yard pass late in the fourth quarter to beat the Cleveland Browns 24 to 17.
Notably, Tom Fears was one of four players on the Rams’ 1951 NFL championship team to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This stellar quartet included Tom Fears, Bob Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin and Elroy Hirsch.
5. Jack Snow
Years for the Rams: 1965 to 1975
College: Notre Dame
NFL Draft: 1st round, #8 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 6,012
Total Rams TDs: 45
Jack Snow played his college football with Notre Dame from 1961 to 1964, setting many individual and team records. In 1964, Snow pulled in 60 receptions with 1,114 receiving yards and 9 TD catches; he also gained 214 yards receiving in a game against the Wisconsin Badgers, breaking the team record. Snow was also the team’s punter in 1964, averaging 37 yards per punt.
Snow joined the Los Angeles Rams in 1965 and quickly became a starter. In 1967, Snow averaged 26.3 yards per reception and scored 8 TDs; he was also selected to the NFL Pro Bowl. When Roman Gabriel was at quarterback, Snow often caught long passes from him, completing what were called “Jack Snow bombs.” Snow completed 340 passes for his Rams’ career, and his receiving yardage total is number 30 in NFL history.
Interestingly, Jack Snow’s son is J.T. Snow, former first baseman for the San Francisco Giants' Major League Baseball team.
4. Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch
Years for the Rams: 1949 to 1957
College: University of Wisconsin
NFL Draft: 1st round, #5 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 6,299
Total Rams TDs: 53
Elroy Hirsch starred for the Wisconsin Badgers in the early 1940s. In 1942, Hirsch was a multi-threat player, rushing for 767 yards and catching 18 passes for 226 yards; he also punted, intercepted six passes and returned 15 punts for 182 yards. He also played football for the University of Michigan in 1943 and 1944.
Hirsch received the nickname “Crazylegs” because his legs twisted as he ran and, at times, seemed to twirl in multiple directions. Hirsch liked the nickname; he said, “Anything’s better than ‘Elroy’.”
After playing two seasons for the Chicago Rockets of All-American Football Conference, Hirsch signed with the Los Angeles Rams 1949. Hirsch’s greatest year with the Rams was 1951, when he set a NFL record by gaining 1,495 receiving yards. He also set another NFL record by receiving an average of 124.6 yards per game (as of 2015, only two players have exceeded this record). In addition, he scored 17 TDs that year, a record that lasted until the 1980s (in 1951 the NFL season was only 12 games). And, notably, Hirsch helped the Rams win the NFL championship in 1951.
In 1968, Elroy Hirsch was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
3. Henry Ellard
Years for the Rams: 1983 to 1993
College: California State University at Fresno
NFL Draft: 2nd round, #32 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 9,761
Total Rams TDs: 48
While playing NCAA football with the Fresno State Bulldogs from 1979 to 1982, Henry Ellard piled up some impressive achievements: in 1982 he set an NCAA record for receiving with 1,510 yards and still holds the record for 24.4 yards per catch in a season; and while playing at Fresno State, he racked up 2,957 yards receiving with 138 receptions and 25 TDs.
When Ellard joined the Rams, he started by returning kickoffs and punts and then he became a full-time wide receiver in 1988, having his best season that year: 1,414 yards on 86 receptions and 10 TDs; he was also selected to the Pro Bowl, ditto for 1984 and 1989.
Henry Ellard’s career achievements with the Rams were exceptional: 9,761 receiving yards, 593 receptions, 26 100-yard games and 11,663 yards of total offense. In fact, for Ellard’s career, he gained 15,718 total yards! Should he also belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
2. Torry Holt
Years for the Rams: 1999 to 2008
College: North Carolina State
NFL Draft: 1st round, #6 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 12,660
Total Rams TDs: 74
Playing for the NC State Wolfpack from 1995 to 1998, Torry Holt had a stellar NCAA football career, gaining 3,379 receiving yards with 191 receptions and 31 touchdowns; and in his senior year he was named the Offensive Player of the Year for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Joining the Rams in 1999, when the St. Louis Rams had one of the most explosive offenses of all time, scoring over 500 points, Holt helped the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV. And then, from 2000 through 2005, Holt gained more than 1,300 yards each season; in fact, in 2000 and 2003 he gained more than 1,600 yards. Holt’s best season was 2003 when he led the NFL with 1,696 yards receiving with 117 catches and an average of 106 yards per game. And if that wasn’t enough to impress, Holt was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times!
Holt finished his Rams’ career with spectacular statistics, enough for him to be selected in 2016 as a second year semi-finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Let’s hope Tory Holt makes the Hall one of these days!
1. Isaac Bruce
Years for the Rams: 1994 to 2007
College: Memphis State University
NFL Draft: 2nd round, #33 pick
Total Rams Yardage: 14,109
Total Rams TDs: 84
Isaac Bruce played two seasons for Memphis State University. In 1993, Bruce became the first receiver at the school to gain more than 1,000 yards; he also had 74 receptions and 10 touchdowns.
Bruce had his first big year with the Rams in 1995, when he caught 119 passes and gained 1,781 yards, second only to Jerry Rice’s 1,848 yards, and the fifth most for a single season to date. In 1996, Bruce led the team in catches with 84 and topped the NFL with 1,338 yards. Thereafter, Bruce had two injury-marred seasons.
Then in 1999 Bruce became an integral aspect of the so-called Greatest Show on Turf, as the St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. Bruce caught the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter; he was also selected to the Pro Bowl that season (a total of four times for his career).
Into the 2000s, Bruce became the all-time Rams leader in receptions, while receiving more than 1,000 yards four straight seasons. Then in 2003 he surpassed Henry Ellard’s record for all-time passing yardage by totaling more than 10,000 yards. Bruce excelled in the playoffs too; he’s the only Ram receiver to gain more than 100 yards in four post-season games.
Bruce concluded a spectacular career by being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020.
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© 2020 Kelley Marks