The answers – Norm Van Brocklin and Eric Dickerson – are both great football players, but neither guy ever came close to playing for the Rams in St. Louis.
However, the two main candidates for the best drafted wide receiver in Rams franchise history both played extensively in St. Louis and therefore are held near and dear to most Rams’ fans hearts.
I’m referring of course to Isaac Bruce (33rd overall pick in 1994) and Torry Holt (sixth overall pick in 1999)*.
*Apologies to a couple of very good honorable mentions, most notably Henry Ellard, who played 11 seasons for the Rams in the 1980s and 1990s and amassed 13,777 career receiving yards.
Holt and Bruce are not only one of the premier wide receiver duos in NFL history, they also played the game with a level of class not usually seen at the wide receiver position, which often attracts brash personalities such as Keyshawn Johnson, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. Not saying there’s anything wrong with some personality in the NFL, but Holt and Bruce were – and still are – great people who are treasured members of Rams history.
Enough with the gushing though – which one of these two was the better draft pick for the Rams? Let’s take a quick peek at their resumes when they played for the Rams (Like many Rams fans, I like to pretend that Bruce never played two years for the 49ers and that Holt never played a season for the Jaguars, so I’m disregarding stats they compiled for those teams.)
- Bruce: 197 career games; 942 receptions, 14,109 yards (15.0 avg), 84 touchdowns. Caught game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXXIV. Eight 1000-yard seasons, including a near-record 1,781-yard season in 1995. Four-time Pro Bowler. Rated 180th all time on Pro Football Reference’s EloRater.
- Holt: 158 career games; 869 receptions, 12,260 yards (14.6 avg), 74 touchdowns. Caught a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXIV. Eight 1,000 yard seasons, including an NFL-record six consecutive seasons with more than 1,300 yards. Averaged 19.9 yards per catch in 2000. Seven-time Pro Bowler. Rated 151st all time on Pro Football Reference’s EloRater.
This is like choosing who’s your favorite kid. I sincerely hope both guys make the Hall of Fame because they both have very worthy cases when they become eligible next year, although it might take them a few years to get in.
I think Holt has just a slightly better case though. To use the star analogy, Holt didn’t burn quite as long as Bruce, but he shone just a little brighter, as Holt’s eight-year stretch from 2000 through 2007 is better than Bruce’s eight best seasons from any point in his career.
Man, choosing my favorite was painful there. Back to loving both equally.
Who would be the best fit for the Rams if they consider a free agent wide receiver?