The Rams franchise has a rich history of talented players on both sides of the ball. Some of these players were too old to appear in Madden NFL, while others are considered the best players in history. Let’s see how good of a team we can make with the entire pool of Rams players to choose from.
Quarterback – 2001 Kurt Warner – Madden tends to be a whole lot easier when you have a mobile quarterback, but some players are just so good they don’t even need to leave the pocket. 2001 Kurt Warner is one of those guys. Warner was at the peak of his powers in 2001, winning his second NFL MVP and leading the league in passing yards. His three-year stretch from 1999-2001 was one of the best in NFL history, and 2001 was the best of that stretch, as well as one of the most impressive seasons in NFL history. ’01 Warner is a dream option for Madden players looking to air it out.
Running Back – 2000 Marshall Faulk, 1993 Jerome Bettis – Marshall Faulk is a no-brainer to be the running back on this team. He’s the perfect Madden running back. He’s a burner out of the backfield and a beast in the passing game. Faulk won his first NFL MVP in 2000, by piling up 26 total touchdowns and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that ’00 Faulk is the most ideal Madden back in NFL History.
I’ve chosen 1993 Jerome Bettis as Faulk’s partner in the back field. There’s little debate that 1984 Eric Dickerson is the best back in Rams history, but Faulk is a better Madden back and Bettis a more ideal pairing. Bettis earned the nickname “The Bus” for good reason; he’s one of the biggest bruisers in NFL history. His 1993 season was one of the best years by a rookie back in NFL history and even one of the best of Bettis’s career. He’s the perfect thunder to Faulk’s lightning.
Wide Receiver – 1996 Isaac Bruce, 2003 Torry Holt, 1988 Henry Ellard, 2015 Tavon Austin – Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce are no-brainers to lead this passing attack. I’ve chosen 1996 Bruce, because he led the NFL in receiving despite having the misfortune of Tony Banks throwing him the ball, and I’ve chosen 2003 Torry Holt, because he led the league with a ridiculous 117 receptions and 1,696 yards. Toss a prime Henry Ellard into that mix and you’ve got a lethal trio of receivers.
Then we’ve got 2015 Tavon Austin as the slot specialist. A lot of times the best players in Madden aren’t always the best players in the league, they’re the guys with the specific skills that make for a cheap Madden player. Austin has those skills. He’s the kind of guy that you can hot route into a go route, and if he’s in man coverage, he’s probably scoring. He makes for the perfect complement to our first three receivers.
Tight End – 2001 Ernie Conwell, 2013 Jared Cook – This is the glaring weakness of the entire team as the Rams have had a very poor history at the tight end position. I’ll take 2001 Ernie Conwell as the starter. Conwell had an impact on the Greatest Show on Turf and would make a decent red zone option. And I’ll pair him with (sigh) 2013 Jared Cook, who showed flashes of why the Rams signed him that season and overall is just a solid Madden type of tight end.
Offensive Line – 2001 Orlando Pace, 1969 Tom Mack, 1979 Rich Saul, 1986 Dennis Harrah, 1983 Jackie Slater – Not much to dissect here, it’s just five of the best Rams offensive linemen of all time, anchored by Orlando Pace.
Overview: Okay, so our offense is basically just the 2001 Rams with an improved offensive line and a few other tweaks. However, the 2001 Rams, on their own, are one of the most dominant teams in franchise history, and the addition of a couple Hall of Famers like Jackie Slater and Jerome Bettis just makes them even better.
Defensive Line – 1968 Deacon Jones, 1968 Merlin Olsen, 2015 Aaron Donald, 1975 Jack Youngblood – The backbone of this defense and the richest pool of players to choose from is the defensive line. Despite so many layers to choose from, this group was relatively easy to choose. The defense is led by Deacon Jones, the leader of the Fearsome Foursome and the greatest defensive end in NFL history. Jones literally coined the term “sack,” and although they weren’t official at the time, he had 22 in 1968. He’s joined by his teammate Merlin Olsen, another all time great Hall of Famer.
Playing opposite of the two members of the Fearsome Foursome are 2015 Aaron Donald and 1975 Jack Youngblood. Donald has a long way to go before joining the likes of these three among the greats, but as far as individual seasons go, he is a given for this list. Donald’s 2015 season was arguably greater than any other Rams defensive tackle has ever had. There were plenty of options to play next to Donald, such as 2013 Robert Quinn, but you can’t put together a team of all-time great Rams and not have Jack Youngblood.
Linebacker – 1989 Kevin Greene, 2012 James Laurinaitis, 1976 Isiah Robertson – 1989 Kevin Greene adds yet another all-time great pass rusher to this defense. With Greene and the defensive line, this defense will create havoc for Madden players trying to drop back to pass. Joining Greene is Rams all-time leading tackler James Laurinaitis during the best season of his career. Rounding out the backers is 1976 Isiah Robertson. Robertson is likely the best linebacker in Rams history. In his prime, he had the speed to be able to chase down players in the open field, and he would make a perfect foil to Greene on the other side.
Cornerback – 2001 Aeneas Williams, 1952 Dick Lane, 1986 Jerry Gray – Two Hall of Famers in Aeneas Williams and Dick “Night Train” Lane lead the way in the secondary. 2001 Aeneas Williams changed the entire culture of the Rams defense and turned them around from one of the worst units in the league to one of the best. 1952 Night Train Lane recorded 14 interceptions, the most in NFL history. With 1986 Jerry Gray as the nickel back, this is a scary trio to throw the ball against.
Safety – 1980 Nolan Cromwell, 1968 Eddie Meador – Two All-Pros in 1980 Nolan Cromwell and 1968 Eddie Meador round out the defense. Both guys were the leaders of the secondary on legendary Rams defenses, adding yet another group of guys that will be dangerous to pass on.
Kicker/Punter – 2012 Greg Zuerlein, 2015 Johnny Hekker – Greg Zuerlein is not even close to the best kicker in Rams history, just another strategic Madden choice. 2012 Zuerlein hit 7 kicks of over 50 yards, giving him the kick power to hit field goals from anywhere in Madden as well as hit the end zone every time on the kickoff. Johnny Hekker is on pace to be the best punter in Rams history, and 2015 was a historic year for him.
Return Specialist – 2007 Dante Hall – It would be a sin to put together an all-time Madden team and not include “The Human Joystick” Dante Hall.
Overview – The defense may be even scarier than the offense. The best defensive line of all time paired with two Hall of Fame cornerbacks will make it nearly impossible to pass on this group. It’s as scary as any team’s all-time Madden defense could be.
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer for Rams Talk and an undergraduate student at Marquette University. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here.