St. Louis Rams: Top 5 Greatest Offensive Linemen of All-Time
On April 15, 2012 the world of football lost one of its truly great offensive lineman. Former Los Angeles Rams great Rich Saul passed away this week after a long fought battle with leukemia. This deep loss brings forth a time of reflection about a man, a football position and a team.
This list will evaluate who the greatest offensive linemen in the Rams history is, from the days of the blue-and-white LA Rams to the modern day millennium blue clad St. Louis Rams.
Three time Pro Bowler who manned the left tackle position for the Rams for 15 years.
During his seven seasons with the Rams he was selected to five Pro Bowls and helped block for Eric Dickerson's 2,105 rushing season.
Two seasons with the Rams...two Pro Bowls.
5. Dennis Harrah
Dennis Harrah was an All-American OT for the University of Miami during the 1974 season.
The LA Rams selected Harrah 11th overall in the 1975 draft. During his rookie year Harrah played special teams and sat behind starter Joe Scibelli.
After his rookie year, Harrah took over the starting RG spot for the Rams. He held that starting job for the next 12 seasons until his retirement.
During his career Harrah was a Rams team captain for six seasons, made six Pro Bowls and was selected All Pro seven times.
4. Rich Saul
The man who inspired this list. After having an great career at Michigan State, Saul required surgery which dropped his draft stock immensely. After being a projected first round pick, Saul was selected in the eighth round of the 1970 NFL draft.
After being chosen as the Rams rookie of the year in 1970 and bouncing around from guard, to tackle and even to tight end he finally took over the starting center job from Ken Iman.
During his 12 year tenure with the Rams he played every position on the offensive line and special teams while still starting at center. He was selected to the Pro Bowl the last six season he played, aging like fine wine.
Saul was the greatest swing player in the Rams history and well deserves an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
3. Tom Mack
Tom Mack was drafted second overall by the LA Rams in 1966.
During his rookie season Mack was one of only two rookies to make the team (George Allen was not a fan of "rookie mistakes" losing his team games) and first stared due to the injury to then starting left guard Don Chuy. After losing and regaining the starting job again once more in the season he never missed a game for the Ram again.
Third on the all time consecutive starts list for the Rams, only behind the great Jack Youngblood and Merlin Olsen, and number one for offensive players.
Between 1966-1978, Mack was selected to 11 Pro Bowls, only missing one season as a starter, a first-team all pro 4 times while spending his entire career with the Rams.
Mack would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 and would turn out to be the only drafted player from 1966 to achieve that honor
Mack is the iron-man all offensive linemen should look up to. Mack is the greatest Rams guard of all time.
2. Orlando Pace
Orlando Pace was the foundation for the Greatest Show on Turf.A linemen so dominant that the term "pancake block" was invented for him during his years at Ohio State.
After Peyton Manning decided to stay in school one more year, Pace was the highest rated prospect and expected first overall pick in the 1997 draft. The Rams traded their sixth overall pick as well as their third, fourth and seventh round selections to the Jets in order to select Pace with the first overall selection.
After a three week holdout, Pace played the final 13 games for the Rams his rookie season.
Pace paved the way for Marshall Faulk and protected Kurt Warner during the Greatest Show on Turf, including the Rams Super Bowl XXXIV victory.
During his career, Pace started 165 out of a possible 169 games. He made seven consecutive Pro Bowl's between 1999-2005 and was selected to the NFL 2000's All Decade Team.
Pace will undoubtedly be a first ballot Hall of Famer and it was near impossible not to put him number one. I grew up watching and admiring Pace play the game. He is my second favorite player in Rams history (Marshall Faulk is the only Ram to top him), but I had no choice but to put him second on the list for two reasons.
1) Unfortunately he is the only player on this list to spent even one season not on the Rams roster (played one partial season with the Chicago Bears in 2009)
2) There is no denying that there is only one choice for greatest offensive linemen in Rams history...
1. Jackie Slater
Jackie Slater is the greatest Rams offensive linemen ever and in my opinion the greatest right tackle in NFL history (leave your comments about that below).
Slater was drafted in the third round in the 1976 draft. Despite his first few seasons being a back-up, Slater would eventually go on to compete in seven Pro Bowls.
The biggest attribute that must be known about Slater? He played 20 seasons for the Rams. Drafted in 1976, Slater retired after the 1995 season. He started at right tackle for an entire generation. He played in a total of 259 games, starting 211 of them.
Slater was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.
There are not enough words in the world to say just how special and amazing Jackie Slater was and without a doubt he is the greatest linemen in the Rams history.
What Do You Think?
That's it folks.
The greatest lineman in Rams history. Many of these players can easily be debated as the best players in the history of their positions.
Do you disagree? Agree? Think I belong in an insane asylum? Let me know in the comments below.
Whatever you think, I hope to hear from you and I'm glad you read this list.
RIP: Rich Saul