Best Wide Receivers in Los Angeles Rams History

Updated on November 30, 2019
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, Robert Woods (17), celebrates with fellow receivers, Cooper Kupp (18) and Brandin Cooks (12), after catching a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings in 2018.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, Robert Woods (17), celebrates with fellow receivers, Cooper Kupp (18) and Brandin Cooks (12), after catching a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings in 2018. | Source

Who Are the Greatest Wide Receivers in Los Angeles Rams History?

The Los Angeles Rams have had numerous superstar wide receivers in their storied franchise history, but there are five who stand out above the rest. With 34 individual 1,000-yard seasons in franchise history, the Rams’ top receivers cover some of the finest years the team has seen. Selecting the greatest receiver in franchise history was an especially daunting task, as a pair of players from the same era both can be argued as the No. 1 selection.

Two wide receivers who primarily played for the Rams have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and three others who joined the franchise in the 1990s have the potential to join them. Those players comprise the top five on this list, but trying to rank them was quite the challenge. So who did I determine is the greatest wide receiver in the history of the Los Angeles Rams? Read on to find out!

Selection Criteria for This List

This is a list of the five greatest Los Angeles Rams wide receivers of all-time, and also includes a handful of honorable mention candidates and statistics from every 1,000-yard receiving season in team history. The criteria used to develop this list includes:

  • Legacy Honors (Hall of Fame, Ring of Honor, retired number, etc.)
  • Single-Season Honors (MVP, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, etc.)
  • On-Field Success (league leader, playoff appearances, records, etc.)
  • Longevity (years with the Rams, percentage of career with the Rams, etc.)

Only games played with the Rams are factored into this list, so while legendary slot receiver Wes Welker would be a great player to include on a list about the New England Patriots, his 102 yards over 8 games with the Rams won't make the cut here. For the purposes of this article, players established as tight ends will be excluded, but those who played as an end in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s were given consideration. Now, without further ado, let's count down the top five receivers in Los Angeles Rams history! Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on these selections.

5. Henry Ellard

  • Years With the Rams: 1983–93
  • Playoff Appearances: 1983–86, ‘88, ‘89
  • All-Pro: 1984, ‘88
  • Pro Bowl: 1984, ‘88, ‘89

Henry Ellard had a record-setting year as a senior at Fresno State, which propelled him to the Los Angeles Rams as a second-round pick in the 1983 NFL Draft. The Rams walked away from the first two rounds of that draft with a pair of players who were vital to the team's success the rest of the decade—the other being Hall of Fame running back, Eric Dickerson. That duo would lead the Rams into the postseason as rookies, and Ellard ultimately made six playoff appearances for Los Angeles on his way to setting numerous team records.

The Rams were confident that Ellard had good enough hands to contribute as a receiver right away, and he did just that with 91 yards on 3 catches in his professional debut. He contributed mostly as a punt returner in his early years, however, and ran back four touchdowns over the first three seasons of his career. His first Pro Bowl selection came as a punt returner after he had 2 touchdowns and a long return of 83 yards that season.

Ellard broke out as a receiver in 1988, when he led the league with a career-high 1,414 yards in what was the first of 4 straight seasons with at least 1,000 yards. Twice that season, he eclipsed 160 yards in a game, but his finest performance in a Rams uniform came in Week 2 of the 1989 season. In a win over the Indianapolis Colts, Ellard had career-bests when he hauled in 12 passes for 230 yards and 3 touchdowns. His best playoff showing came in 1990, when he caught 8 passes for 125 yards against the New York Giants in a second-round victory.

After leaving the Rams, Ellard had several more successful seasons with the Washington Redskins. In 11 seasons with Los Angeles, Ellard had 593 catches for 9,761 yards, and 48 touchdowns. All-time, he is 15th in NFL history with 13,777 yards, but he is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ellard made it to the semifinals of voting by the Hall of Fame's Modern-Era Committee in 2019.

Henry Ellard's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rec
Yds
TD
1983
12
0
16
268
0
1984
16
16
34
622
6
1985
16
16
54
811
5
1986
9
8
34
447
4
1987
12
12
51
799
3
1988
16
15
86
1414
10
1989
14
12
70
1382
8
1990
15
15
76
1294
4
1991
16
16
64
1052
3
1992
16
15
47
727
3
1993
16
16
61
945
2
1994
16
16
74
1397
6
Los Angeles Rams Hall of Fame wide receiver, Tom Fears, is pictured on a 1955 Bowman football card.
Los Angeles Rams Hall of Fame wide receiver, Tom Fears, is pictured on a 1955 Bowman football card. | Source

4. Tom Fears

  • Years With the Rams: 1948–56
  • Playoff Appearances: 1949–52, ‘55
  • All-Pro: 1950
  • Major Awards: Hall of Fame (1970), NFL 1950s All-Decade Team, Rams Ring of Honor (1999)

With as good of a receiver as Thomas "Tom" Fears was during his career with the Los Angeles Rams, it's surprising to know that he was a converted defensive back. Fears was drafted out of Santa Clara University in the 11th round of the 1945 NFL Draft, and became one of the all-time draft steals by turning into a Hall of Fame receiver. He didn't join the Rams until 1948, instead opting to play at the University of California-Los Angeles in 1946 and '47.

But when Fears joined the NFL, he made an immediate impact by leading the league with 51 receptions as a rookie, and it only got better from there. The next season, in 1949, Fears set a new NFL standard with 77 catches, and led the league with 9 touchdowns. In 1950, Fears broke his own receptions mark, when he hauled in 84 passes—including a career-best 18-catch, 189-yard game against the Green Bay Packers. Fears had more than 1,000 receiving yards each of those seasons, and helped the Rams to the NFL championship game both years.

Perhaps the finest moment of his career came in 1951, when he caught a 73-yard touchdown pass to break a 17–17 tit against the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship game. That would prove to be the game-winning score in Los Angeles' first NFL title. Two seasons later, injuries would begin to take their toll on Fears, who retired in the middle of the 1956 season and only played one full campaign from 1953–56.

In his 9-year career with the Rams, Fears caught 400 passes for 5,397 yards and 38 touchdowns. Following retirement, he remained with Los Angeles as an assistant coach, and he was involved with football in some capacity until the mid-1980s. In 1970, he became the first player of Mexican descent to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and in 1999, he became a charter member of the Rams' Ring of Honor.

Tom Fears' Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rec
Yds
TD
1948
12
1
51
698
4
1949
12
10
77
1013
9
1950
12
12
84
1116
7
1951
7
7
32
528
3
1952
12
11
48
600
6
1953
8
5
23
278
4
1954
10
8
36
546
3
1955
12
12
44
569
2
1956
2
2
5
49
0
Los Angeles Rams Hall of Fame wide receiver, Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, is pictured on a 1951 Bowman football card.
Los Angeles Rams Hall of Fame wide receiver, Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, is pictured on a 1951 Bowman football card. | Source

3. Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch

  • Years With the Rams: 1949–57
  • Playoff Appearances: 1949–52, ‘55
  • All-Pro: 1951, ‘53
  • Pro Bowl: 1951–53
  • Major Awards: Hall of Fame (1967), NFL 1950s All-Decade Team, Rams Ring of Honor (1999)

Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch was originally drafted by the Cleveland Rams in 1945, but instead ended up playing for the Chicago Rockets of the rival All-America Football Conference from 1946–48. After a contract dispute with the AAFC, Hirsch intended to join the Green Bay Packers, but was contractually obliged to sign with the Rams, who had relocated to Los Angeles. Hirsch proved to be a versatile player for the Rams, but it was in 1951 when he really showed his capabilities.

Hirsch set since-broken NFL records with 1,495 yards and 17 touchdowns that season, leading the Rams to their first league championship. He was a major deep threat that season, hauling in a 91-yard touchdown pass and averaging better than 50 yards on each of his touchdowns. In the season-opener, he caught 9 passes for 173 yards and 4 touchdowns to set the stage for an outstanding campaign that saw him post at least 100 yards in 9 of 12 regular-season games. He caught 66 yards in the NFL Championship game.

Hirsch led the NFL in yards per reception in 1952, gaining 23.6 yards per catch. In 1953, Hirsch again showed he could stretch the field, despite an unusual running style that gave him the nickname "Crazy Legs." During a win over the Green Bay Packers, he caught 9 passes for a career-high 196 yards, giving him a single game with at least 190 receiving yards for a third straight season. After retiring in 1957 with 343 receptions for 6,299 yards and 53 touchdowns, Hirsch became the Rams' general manager in 1960. In that role, he was responsible for drafting multiple Hall of Famers and remained in the front office until 1969.

Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rec
Yds
TD
1949
12
3
22
326
4
1950
12
10
42
687
7
1951
12
12
66
1495
17
1952
10
7
25
590
4
1953
12
12
61
941
4
1954
12
11
35
720
3
1955
9
8
25
460
2
1956
12
12
35
603
6
1957
12
8
32
477
6
Former St. Louis Rams wide receiver, Torry Holt (right), talks with Los Angeles Rams receiver, Pharoh Cooper, at organized team activities at Cal Lutheran University in June 2018.
Former St. Louis Rams wide receiver, Torry Holt (right), talks with Los Angeles Rams receiver, Pharoh Cooper, at organized team activities at Cal Lutheran University in June 2018. | Source

2. Torry Holt

  • Years With the Rams: 1999–2008
  • Playoff Appearances: 1999–2001, ‘03, ‘04
  • All-Pro: 2003, ‘06
  • Pro Bowl: 2000–01, 2003–07
  • Major Awards: NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

As the sixth overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Torry Holt produced right from the start, giving the St. Louis Rams a tremendous return on their investment. His efforts as a rookie helped the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV, and he continued on to become one of the league's premier receivers throughout the next decade. As time went along, however, the Rams lost several superstars and fell toward the bottom of the league standings, and Holt eventually requested his release.

After a standout season as a rookie, he would gain at least 1,300 yards in each of the next 6 seasons to set an NFL record. Holt led the league in receiving in 2000 and 2003, the 2 seasons he eclipsed 1,600 yards. His 117 catches and 1,696 yards from '03 are the second-best marks in franchise history. Holt holds 6 of the top 7 single-season reception totals in team history, as well as 6 of the top 12 single-season receiving yardage totals. He's also the fastest player to record 10,000 career receiving yards. In only one game of his Rams career, Holt failed to catch a pass. That came during Week 5 of his rookie season.

The best individual showing of Holt's career came against the Indianapolis Colts in the 15th game of the 2001 season, when he hauled in 7 passes for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had 200 yards in a 2003 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Holt had at least 10 receptions in a game 11 times, and gained 100 yards in all but 1 of them. In 46 games with the Rams, Holt racked up at least 100 yards in a game, and he scored twice in 10 games. His career-high of three touchdowns came against the Seattle Seahawks in 2006. In 10 postseason games, Holt had 630 yards and 4 touchdowns—including the first score in the second half of Super Bowl XXXIV.

Holt sits second in franchise history after snaring 869 passes for 12,660 yards and 74 touchdowns. He advanced to the semifinals of voting by the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Modern-Era Committee in 2019. All-time in NFL history, he is 16th in career receiving yardage, 21st in receptions, and tied for 36th in receiving touchdowns.

Torry Holt's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rec
Yds
TD
1999
16
15
52
788
6
2000
16
15
82
1635
6
2001
16
14
81
1363
7
2002
16
11
91
1302
4
2003
16
15
117
1696
12
2004
16
16
94
1372
10
2005
14
14
102
1331
9
2006
16
16
93
1188
10
2007
16
16
93
1189
7
2008
16
14
64
796
3

1. Isaac Bruce

  • Years With the Rams: 1994–2007
  • Playoff Appearances: 1999–2001, ‘03, ‘04
  • All-Pro: 1999
  • Pro Bowl: 1996, 1999–2001
  • Major Awards: Rams No. 80 retired

When Isaac Bruce came to the Los Angeles Rams as a second-round draft pick in 1994, it began a long marriage between the two that resulted in the greatest wide receiver in franchise history. Bruce opened his career with a 34-yard touchdown reception and didn't quit until he owned nearly every major receiving record in team history. Fiercely competitive but also stoic, Bruce was a reliable target who racked up at least 1,000 yards in a season 8 times in 14 seasons with the Rams, but more importantly, served as the team's emotional and on-field leader for much of his career.

Bruce's second season in the league was his best. It came after the Rams moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis, and Bruce treated the new fans to a 119-catch, 1,781-yard, 13-touchdown season that helped establish him as one of the best receivers in the NFL. All but his touchdown tally remain franchise records. He'd lead the league in receiving yardage in 1996, but was then slowed by injuries in '97 and '98. Bruce had a game with at least 200 yards each season from 1995–97, with 233 yards against the Atlanta Falcons in '97, 229 yards against the Baltimore Ravens in '96, and 210 yards against the Miami Dolphins in '95. The Rams, however, were losers in each of those matchups.

From 1999–2001, Bruce was one of the catalysts for "The Greatest Show on Turf" teams that advanced to a pair of Super Bowls. He didn't miss a start in that stretch, and accumulated 3,742 yards and 22 touchdowns. Bruce was on the receiving end of the go-ahead, 73-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XXXIV against the Tennessee Titans. That helped give him a team-high 317 yards in the 1999 postseason. In 2000, he and teammate, Torry Holt, each caught more than 1,400 yards to become just the second set of teammates to do so. In 2001, he earned a third straight Pro Bowl selection in helping the Rams return to the Super Bowl (which they would lose to the New England Patriots). Bruce was only the third Rams played in history to be named to three straight Pro Bowls.

Bruce played 6 more seasons for the Rams, posting at least 700 yards in each of them. After the 2007 season, Bruce was released due to a contract issue. During his tenure with the team, Bruce caught 942 passes for 14,109 yards and 84 touchdowns, which all stand as franchise records.

After leaving the Rams, he spent two years with the San Francisco 49ers and caught his 1,000th career reception against his former team in 2008. He was traded back to St. Louis in June 2010 as a formality that allowed him to retire as a member of the Rams, who then retired his jersey No. 80 during the 2010 season. At the time of his retirement, Bruce was second all-time in NFL history in career receiving yardage (now 5th), fifth in receptions (now 13th), and ninth in receiving touchdowns (now 12th). He was a finalist in voting among the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Modern-Era Committee in 2019, and many fans hope to see him inducted sooner than later.

Isaac Bruce's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rec
Yds
TD
1994
12
0
21
272
3
1995
16
16
119
1781
13
1996
16
16
84
1338
7
1997
12
12
56
815
5
1998
5
5
32
457
1
1999
16
16
77
1165
12
2000
16
16
87
1471
9
2001
16
16
64
1106
6
2002
16
16
79
1075
7
2003
15
15
69
981
5
2004
16
16
89
1292
6
2005
11
10
36
525
3
2006
16
13
74
1098
3
2007
14
12
55
733
4
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, Cooper Kupp, runs upfield during the second quarter of a 2019 game against the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium in London.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, Cooper Kupp, runs upfield during the second quarter of a 2019 game against the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium in London. | Source

Honorable Mentions

With several standout wide receivers in the history of the Los Angeles Rams, I've decided to include a handful of players who also left an indelible mark on team history, but didn't quite make the top five.

Jack Snow (1965–75)

As a rookie, Jack Snow broke into the starting lineup for the Los Angeles Rams, and for the next 10 years, he only missed one start. In 1967, he led the NFL with an average of 26.7 yards per reception, and his 859 yards in 1970 marked his career-high. Snow's best game came in 1967, when he caught 3 passes for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns of 53 yards and 80 yards in a 24–24 tie against the Baltimore Colts. He later had 3 touchdowns in a 1969 win over the New Orleans Saints. In an 11-year career, Snow caught 340 passes for 6,012 yards and 45 touchdowns. He was selected as part of the Rams' Ring of Honor following his death in 2006.

Willie “Flipper” Anderson (1988–94)

Willie "Flipper" Anderson is most known for holding the NFL's all-time record for single-game receiving yardage. On November 26, 1989, Anderson hauled in 15 catches for an astounding 336 yards and a touchdown in a 20–17 victory against the New Orleans Saints. But Anderson was far from a one-game wonder. He led the league in yards per reception in 1989 and '90, while piling up at least 1,000 yards each season. Anderson also caught the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the New York Giants in a 1990 postseason matchup. During 7 seasons with the Rams, Anderson caught 259 passes for 5,246 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Jim Benton (1938–47)

Another Rams receiver known primarily for a single game is James "Jim" Benton, who caught 10 passes for a then-NFL record 303 yards against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving in 1945. That performance helped push Benton to the only 1,000-yard season of his career and the first of 2 straight seasons in which he led the NFL in receiving yardage. Benton made the 1939 Pro Bowl, was a two-time first-team All-Pro selection (1945 and '46), and was named to the NFL 1940s All-Decade Team. In 8 seasons with the Cleveland and Los Angeles Rams, Benton hauled in 275 passes for 4,566 and 42 touchdowns.

Cooper Kupp (2017–present)

Emerging as one of the best young receivers in the NFL, Cooper Kupp is one of the driving forces behind the resurgence of the Los Angeles Rams. As a rookie in 2017, Kupp was a vital cog in the offense and caught 869 yards. He was on his way to bettering that mark in 2018 before a torn anterior cruciate ligament ended his season after 8 games. His teammates would go on to win the Super Bowl. In 2019, he's maintained his health and is on pace to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the first time. Thus far in his career, Kupp has caught 169 passes for 2,315 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, Robert Woods (17), is all smiles after scoring a 7-yard touchdown in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018. He gained more than 1,000 yards on the season.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, Robert Woods (17), is all smiles after scoring a 7-yard touchdown in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018. He gained more than 1,000 yards on the season. | Source

Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver History

It’s been said that to determine the greatest receiver in Rams history, you could flip a coin with Isaac Bruce on one side and Torry Holt on the other and not be wrong. Both players were special talents who should be in the Hall of Fame, and together, they created one of the most dynamic duos in modern NFL history. In general, the consensus is that Holt was the more talented player, but Bruce had the better career.

Not only did Bruce produce on the field, he also was instrumental in helping the Rams go from a 4–12 team his rookie year to Super Bowl champions five seasons later. Combined with his statistics, Bruce has garnered more post-career attention than Holt. Bruce's jersey number was retired by the franchise, and he was a finalist in voting by the Hall of Fame's Modern Era Committee in 2018 and '19.

Holt, meanwhile, did more in less time statistically, but stepped right onto a team loaded with talent. He has yet to be formally honored by the franchise with a retired number, but he did reach the semifinals in voting by the Hall of Fame's Modern Era Committee in 2019.

The debate about who is better will certainly rage on for years, but in the meantime, let's look at some other receivers who should be remembered. The following is a look at the franchise receiving records, as well as individual statistics for every 1,000-yard receiving season in the history of the Cleveland/St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.

Los Angeles Rams Receiving Records

  • Career Yards: 14,109, Isaac Bruce (1994–2007)
  • Career Touchdowns: 84, Bruce (1994–2007)
  • Single-Season Yards: 1,781, Bruce (1995)
  • Single-Season Touchdowns: 17, Elroy Hirsch (1951)
  • Single-Game Yards: 336, Flipper Anderson (1989)*
  • Single-Game Touchdowns: 4, Bruce (1999), Harold Jackson ('73), Hirsch ('51), Bob Shaw ('49)

*NFL record

Los Angeles Rams Receivers With 1,000 Yards in a Season

Player
Year
G
GS
Rec
Yds
TD
Isaac Bruce
1995
16
16
119
1781
13
Torry Holt
2003
16
15
117
1696
12
Torry Holt
2000
16
15
82
1635
6
Elroy Hirsch
1951
12
12
66
1495
17
Isaac Bruce
2000
16
16
87
1471
9
Henry Ellard
1988
16
15
86
1414
10
Henry Ellard
1989
14
12
70
1382
8
Torry Holt
2004
16
16
94
1372
10
Torry Holt
2001
16
14
81
1363
7
Isaac Bruce
1996
16
16
84
1338
7
Torry Holt
2005
14
14
102
1331
9
Torry Holt
2002
16
11
91
1302
4
Henry Ellard
1990
15
15
76
1294
4
Isaac Bruce
2004
16
16
89
1292
6
Robert Woods
2018
16
16
86
1219
6
Bob Boyd
1954
12
11
53
1212
6
Brandin Cooks
2018
16
16
80
1204
5
Torry Holt
2007
16
16
93
1189
7
Torry Holt
2006
16
16
93
1188
10
Isaac Bruce
1999
16
16
77
1165
12
Flipper Anderson
1989
16
13
44
1146
5
Tom Fears
1950
12
12
84
1116
7
Isaac Bruce
2001
16
16
64
1106
6
Isaac Bruce
2006
16
13
74
1098
3
Flipper Anderson
1990
16
11
51
1097
4
Del Shofner
1958
12
11
51
1097
8
Red Phillips
1961
14
14
78
1092
5
Isaac Bruce
2002
16
16
79
1075
7
Jim Benton
1945
9
4
45
1067
8
Henry Ellard
1991
16
16
64
1052
3
Marshall Faulk
1999
16
16
87
1048
5
Tommy McDonald
1965
14
14
67
1036
9
Tom Fears
1949
12
10
77
1013
9
Kenny Britt
2016
15
15
68
1002
5
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, Kenny Britt (18), takes the field prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins in 2016. Britt gained more than 1,000 receiving yards on the season.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, Kenny Britt (18), takes the field prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins in 2016. Britt gained more than 1,000 receiving yards on the season. | Source

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