<
>

Rams' best draft class featured two Hall of Fame receivers and set stage for a lot of wins

There's no cut-and-dried answer when it comes to choosing the best draft class in the history of the Rams. There are options for the best class from the team's time in Los Angeles, and even from its time in St. Louis (though not many), and there are no set criteria for making a choice. Do you go with the class that offered the best players over the course of their careers? Do you go with the group that maybe didn't have as much star power but was integral in winning at a high level? For the Rams, we have to hop in the wayback machine in order to find the best combination of the two: the 1945 Cleveland Rams. That class featured two future Hall of Fame receivers, the only class in Rams history with multiple Hall of Famers, and contributed to one of the most successful runs in franchise history.

Here's a look at the best of the Rams' 1945 class:

Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch, WR, Michigan, first round, fifth overall: By the time he actually joined the Rams in 1949, Hirsch helped them revolutionize the game with their "three end" offense, emerging as the type of dangerous deep threat the league hadn't really seen before. By the time he was done, he had 343 receptions for 6,299 yards and 53 touchdowns on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968. Hirsch was at the forefront of a team that would win the 1951 NFL championship, posting 1,495 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns.

Tom Fears, WR, UCLA, 11th round, 103rd overall: As another end in the Rams' offense, Fears followed Hirsch into the Hall of Fame in 1970. He first suited up for the Rams in 1948, going on to put up 400 catches for 5,397 yards and 38 touchdowns in nine seasons with the team. Known for his precision routes, Fears was the ideal possession complement (13.5 yards per catch) to Hirsch's big-play exploits (18.2 yards per catch).

Milan Lazetich, OG/LB, Michigan, second round, 16th overall: Lazetich provided perhaps the most immediate impact of the Rams' picks in this class, earning a job as a starting guard right away; the Rams won the 1945 NFL championship. He would go on to contribute on both sides of the ball, earning first-team All NFL honors in 1948 and 1949.

Dick Huffman, OT, Tennessee, ninth round, 81st overall: Although he played only four seasons for the Rams, Huffman made the most of them. He earned a Pro Bowl appearance and was a three-time, first-team All Pro. Huffman didn't play until 1947, but when he did, he anchored a line that helped the Rams play in two NFL championship games, in 1949 and 1950.

Next-best Rams draft class: There's very little separating the next-best classes in Rams history, which include the 1977 group that featured Nolan Cromwell, Wendell Tyler and Vince Ferragamo; the 1983 class led by Eric Dickerson and Henry Ellard; and the 1962 class with Merlin Olsen and Roman Gabriel. We'll give the nod for second place to the 1977 class, though, because it was vital in leading the Rams to Super Bowl XIV.