Undrafted free agents are a gift from the football gods. The Los Angeles Rams have benefited from them in many different eras, but there are five standouts in franchise history. Some are forgotten but some are fresh in our memories. The following list of great players contributed to championship teams, broke NFL records and added a new dimension to the game. Some names may surprise you.
RB/LB Tank Younger – Los Angeles Rams, 1949-1957
Paul “Tank” Younger made history as the first African-American from a HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to play in the NFL. He is also part of the Rams’ 1951 NFL Championship team, their first and only in Los Angeles. As a two-way player, Younger started at fullback and linebacker for the Rams. Younger made a name for himself as a member of the famous “Bull Elephant Backfield.” This consisted of running backs “Deacon” Dan Towler and Dick Hoerner. At 6’3”, 225 pounds, Younger had 31 career touchdowns in eight seasons with Los Angeles and appeared in four NFL Championship games. He appeared in four Pro Bowls throughout his NFL career too.
Younger played for Grambling College in Louisiana (now known as Grambling State University) from 1945-1948. He scored 60 touchdowns in four seasons, earning the nickname “Tank” because he could run over players like a tank. Because HBCUs were not scouted by the NFL during that time, Younger was never drafted. Instead, Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson encouraged him to get on a train to California and try out for the Rams. Younger made the cut and signed with the Rams as a free agent in 1949.
After retiring from football, Younger became a scout for the Rams. He then became the first black NFL assistant general manager for the San Diego Chargers in 1975-1987. He returned to the Rams front office and then retired in 1995.