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L.A. Rams All-Time Team: Defensive Edition

From the Fearsome Foursome to the Mob squad, the LA Rams have certainly had some elite defensive players. Along the way the franchise has had Hall-of-Famers from every position group, therefore making this list quite difficult. Some players were forced off of this list that definitely would have been on other teams’ All-Time squad. But, because of the long history of the Rams franchise, it’s simply not possible to add everyone. There were only two rules. I had to do a 4-3 alignment, and each player had to play with the Rams for at least four years.

Defensive Line

Merlin Olsen

The 1962 draft was historic for the Rams. Not only did they have the second pick, which they used to draft all-time great quarterback Roman Gabriel, they also had the third. That pick would turn out to be even better, as the Rams drafted Hall-of-Famer Merlin Olsen. Playing for the Rams for 15 seasons, Olsen was a 14-time Pro-Bowler and a six-time All-Pro. Olsen stepped right into the NFL as one of the best defensive linemen in the league, winning rookie of the year honors along the way. Olsen might be near the top the record books in sacks and tackles for a loss had those stats been recorded at the time.

Photo Credit: CBS News

Aaron Donald

What can be said about this guy that hasn’t been said already? On his way to possibly being the most accomplished defensive player in Rams history, Donald is in a class by himself. In the first six seasons of his career, Donald has already been to the Pro Bowl six times and been named as an All-Pro a staggering five times. Donald was the rookie of the year, the defensive player of the year in back to back years, and the NFL sacks leader in 2018. Donald has now changed the game when it comes to double-teams. His pass-rush win rate in 2019 was something out of a Madden game.


Deacon Jones

The second member on this list from the Fearsome Foursome was not a heralded pick like his teammate Olsen, Deacon Jones was actually a late-round pick in 1961. In college, Jones only played two years of football with a one year gap in-between seasons. The concerns about him led Deacon to fall to the 14th round. The number 14 suited him quite well, however, as he went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL. Like Donald, Jones had a stretch of play that was absolutely brilliant. Jones was named an All-Pro five straight times and was the defensive player of the year in 1967 and 1968. As part of the NFL’s 75th and 100th-anniversary teams, Deacon Jones will go down in NFL history as one of the greatest defensive linemen ever.

Photo Credit: AP News

Leonard Little

The final spot on this list was a tough one. Leonard Little is the Rams all-time sack leader and one of the best Rams from their days in St. Louis, but Lamar Lundy played 13 seasons with the Rams while also picking up an All-Pro and a Pro-Bowl, the same amount as Little. The edge here came down to the fact that Little was on a Super Bowl-winning team. Because teams viewed Little as a “Tweener”– too small for defensive end, too big for linebacker– he fell in the draft despite running the 40-yard-dash in 4.48 seconds. The Rams snagged him in the third round of the 1998 draft and the rest is history. He would finish his career with 87.5 sacks, the most ever by a Ram.

Photo Credit: University of Tenneseee Athletics

Linebackers

Les Richter

As part of the 1952 draft class, Richter was drafted to an AFL franchise named the New York Yanks. The team folded before the season and his rights were sold to the Dallas Texans, who then traded him to the Rams for a whopping eleven players. The epitome of toughness, Richter famously played through a broken cheekbone and also never missed a start in his nine-year career with the Rams. In those nine seasons, Richter managed to go to eight straight Pro-Bowls and was named an All-Pro four straight times. He was inducted into the Hall-of-Fame in 2011.

Photo Credit: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Kevin Greene

Although he might have had his better years after he left the Rams, there is no denying Kevin Greene’s accomplishments with the team. Greene was a master at getting after the QB from all angles. Kevin twice led the league in sacks while also picking up a defensive player of the year award. As if all of this wasn’t impressive enough, Greene did this while simultaneously earning the rank of Captain in the US Army National Guard. Greene is second all-time on the Rams sack list, behind Little, and third in the history of the NFL in sacks.

Photo Credit: O.C. Register

Jack Youngblood

This selection was a very easy one for multiple reasons. First off, Youngblood might go down as “Mr. Ram” due to his combination of longevity with the club, accomplishments on the field, and sheer toughness to play the game. Youngblood played for the Rams for 14 seasons, going to seven straight pro-bowls, being named an All-Pro five times, and eventually landing in the Hall-of-Fame. All of that does not compare to what he did in 1980. While in the midst of 201 games played streak, Youngblood played through the playoffs and Super Bowl that season on a broken leg. In fact, he even went on to play in the Pro-Bowl that same year before getting it repaired.

Photo credit: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Defensive Backs

Jerry Gray

The rams’ first-round draft choice in 1985 would go on to pay instant dividends as Jerry Gray went on to four straight Pro-Bowls from 1986-1989. Known as an especially hard hitter and crowd favorite, Gray would also go on to be named the MVP of the 1989 Pro-Bowl. The owner of 28 career interceptions to go along with his hard-hitting ways, Gray was a master at studying his opponents. He turned that mastery into a 25-year coaching career that is still going today. Also a great college football player, Gray was inducted into the college football Hall-of-fame in 2013. Jalen Ramsey will most certainly have this spot if he stays with the Rams, but for now, he is not eligible to be on it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Ed Meador

Taken in the seventh round of the 1959 draft, Meador would go on to be one of the steals of the decade. As the Rams All-Time leader in career interceptions, Meador was also one of the best players of the decade regardless of draft position. A six-time Pro-Bowler and a four-time All-Pro, Meador was also one of the best players of the decade. Although not in the Hall-of-Fame, Meador will go down as one of the greatest Rams in history, for sure. He is the owner of the team record for most fumbles recovered in a career with 18 and has the most blocked kicks in team history with 10.

Photo credit: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Nolan Cromwell

Nolan Cromwell was one heck of an athlete. After playing safety for two years in college, Cromwell made the switch to quarterback. It worked out well for him as he was named an All-American by seasons end. Cromwell also earned All-American honors in track. He was a 660-meter champion, and a 440-yard hurdle champion while setting school records in the 600 and 400-meters. All of the athletic ability translated to the NFL just fine. Cromwell was a four-time Pro-Bowler and a three-time All-Pro at the safety position while amassing 37 career interceptions.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Aeneas Williams

Williams Impact was huge on the Rams, even though he was only a part of the team for four years. As a rookie in 1991, Williams wasted no time making a name for himself. He tied for the league lead in interceptions with six and also led the league in picks in 1994. Williams parlayed that success into a Hall-of-Fame career. As an eight-time Pro-Bowler and 4-time All-Pro–at two different positions– Williams had all the accolades that anyone could ask for. All of that pails in comparison, however, to the type of leader that Williams was. That is what he will be remembered for even more than his play.

Photo credit: AP News/ Charlie Neibergall


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