The Los Angeles Rams are tied for second-most Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees at 33. From Bob Waterfield to Issac Bruce, the Rams have produced a number of great players and it made me wonder, if you could take any former player’s single season performance, and add it to the current LA roster, who would you choose?
Given all the questions heading into the season, it made me wonder which star from the past could have the greatest impact on the present? Do you think prime career Todd Gurley could win Offensive Player of the Year if he had this supporting cast? Could ‘99 Kurt Warner excel with Cooper Kupp and this company? Or would he need Orlando Pace?
These are my top three players that I think would help out Los Angeles the most right now. This list excludes current player performances, like Cooper Kupp’s 2021 season.
Todd Gurley’s 2018 season
Todd Gurley was a 2015 first round pick by the then St. Louis Rams. After a slow start to his career, Gurley found his footing and finished with a strong ending to his rookie season. However, it was Gurley’s 4th season in 2018 that was truly impressive.
In 15 games, Gurley was able to amass a staggering 1,251 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. It wasn’t just what he could do in the run game though, as he also added 59 receptions, 580 additional receiving yards and another 4 touchdowns through the air.
3rd and shorts seemed like automatic first downs with Gurley in the backfield, and if not for knee arthritis towards the end of the season, the Rams may have found themselves on the winning end of Super Bowl LIII instead of a 3-13 loss. With more longevity, Gurley himself may have been in consideration for the hall of fame right now but unfortunately, the lingering knee issue inevitably ended his career short.
While the Rams currently have Cam Akers, what Gurley brought to the offense as a weapon rather than just a running back cannot be understated. He was by far the most valuable player on Los Angeles’ roster in 2018 and would bring a pass catching ability out of the backfield that the Rams current roster has not had since his departure in 2019.
Orlando Pace’s 1999 season
Orlando Pace is already an inductee to the NFL Hall of Fame for his contributions at left tackle and it’s easy to see why. Pace had a 12 year career with the Rams (and one season with the Chicago Bears), where he was selected to the pro bowl seven times in a row from 1999-2005 and was awarded an additional four All-Pro titles (99-01, 03). He was the first Rams offensive lineman to be voted to the Pro Bowl since Jackie Slater in 1990 and was included in the All-Decade team of the 2000s.
Even in college it was clear Pace was special, gaining Heisman consideration in his senior season and finishing 4th in total votes. It was the highest finish for a lineman since John Hicks in 1973, and would be unheard of today as the Heisman is almost exclusive won by offensive skill positions now.
In 1999, Pace won his first Super Bowl while being the lynchpin of the Greatest Show on Turf’s offensive line. He started 16/16 games and the ’99 Rams totaled a league-high 6,412 yards of offense behind him, including 1,381 yards rushing. On a roster that needs to improve the run game and consistency at left tackle, Pace would be a perfect addition to the 2023 team.
Kurt Warner’s 1999 season
Some would argue that the 1999 season was the greatest in Rams history, and Kurt Warner was the one who orchestrated it all. Filling in for an injured Trent Green, Warner was the first quarterback to throw for three touchdowns in each of his first three starts until the record was broken by Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes in 2018.
Warner would go on to have the best statistical season by a quarterback since Dan Marino in 1984, when he threw for 41 touchdowns and 4,353 yards. At the time he was only 7 touchdown passes short of breaking the all time single season record. The Rams offense was number one in the league by a wide margin, and the team is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time.
What’s more impressive is that Warner helped turn around a Rams team that was 3-13 in 1998 with a history of being bad through the entire 1990s, into an offensive juggernaut with a 13-3 record in 1999. In addition, Warner won Super Bowl XXXIV and MVP of the game, as well as the league MVP too.
With questions about Stafford’s health, and considering that Warner was only making about $750,000 for his 1999 season, he would be a perfect addition to solidify a quarterback position that, only a year ago, didn’t seem quite as shaky as it does now. Given Stafford’s inflated contract, Warner would, in theory, join the roster with a minimal cap hit while keeping a strong veteran presence.
These are just my choices, but there are so many Rams players to choose from.
Which players do you think could help the 2023 roster? Comment Below!