It's time for the NFL Draft and every journalist; blogger and their mother's uncle have a list of the biggest draft busts in the history of the league. Not one of these lists includes a former Patriots draft pick that were complete busts and failures. The following list is the best of the worst number one draft pick busts in the history of the Patriots franchise. I'm sure some of these picks could challenge Ryan Leaf as the biggest busts in the history of the league.
10 - Tony Eason, QB - Illinois
Eason was drafted in the first round (15th overall) as the franchise quarterback in the now famous 1983 NFL Draft that featured three future NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks, John Elway, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly, as well as two College Football Hall of Famers Todd Blackledge and Ken O'Brien. The Patriots decided to select Eason over Dan Marino during that draft.
Eason immediately supplanted longtime Patriots starter Steve Grogan at quarterback 1984. In 1985, he lost his job back to Grogan because of his lack of toughness and a loss of respect from his teammates (most notably from Hall of Famer John Hannah, who has shown public disdain for Eason to this day, while also referring to Eason as Champaign Tony). It's well-known that Howie Long of the Los Angeles Raiders once chastised a teammate for knocking Eason out of a game because the tougher Grogan was going to be Eason's replacement.
However, Eason did have some success that season when Grogan went down with a broken leg. With the help of a ball-hocking defense and a powerful running attack, Eason helped the Patriots become the first team in NFL history to win three games on the road to reach the Super Bowl. This early success would crumble at the claws of the Bears' 46 Defense in Super Bowl XX. Eason became the first starting quarterback in Super Bowl history not to complete a pass, going 0-for-6. Bears linebacker Mike Singletary later said he could see the fear in Eason's eyes prior to the start of the game. Eason was able to lead the Patriots to the AFC East title the following season, but was defeated in the playoffs by Elway's Denver Broncos.
With the growing reputation of Eason as a soft player, the organization completely turned its back on Eason with the arrival of hometown hero Doug Flutie. He would only play two more seasons in New England before being unceremoniously placed on waivers. Eason went from the franchise quarterback to a waiver-wire reject.
9 - Trevor Matich, C - BYU
During the 1985 draft, the Patriots decided to swap first round picks with San Francisco. They traded their first round pick, 16th overall, along with a third round pick, for the 49ners' first round pick, 28th overall, and for a second and third round pick. San Francisco used the 16th pick to select Jerry Rice and the Pats ended up choosing Trevor Matich at the 28th spot. Needless to say, the 49ners got the better of the deal. Rice went on to become a Hall of Fame wide receiver, while Matich spent his 12 year career primarily as a long snapper. He played 26 games over four seasons in New England, only starting 11 games at center.
8 - Andy Katzenmoyer, LB - Ohio State
Katzenmoyer was selected 28th by the Patriots in the first round of the 1999 Draft as a highly touted linebacker, but he suffered a neck injury during his first season with the team that eventually forced him to have mid-season surgery. During the 2001 training camp, Katzenmoyer walked out without permission. He said he had concerns about something he felt in his neck. He was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. The Patriots cut Katzenmoyer the very next season and he never played football again. He now owns a personal training studio in Ohio. He played a grand total of 24 games for the Pats, while starting only 14 games.
7 - Ray Agnew, DE - North Carolina State
During the 1990 draft, the Patriots traded their first round pick (3rd overall) to Seattle for two first round draft picks. One of those picks, the tenth overall, was used to select Ray Agnew. Seattle used the 3rd pick to select Cortez Kennedy. In 167 games with Seattle, he recorded 668 tackles, 58 sacks, and 3 interceptions and is arguably one of the best defensive tackles to ever play the position. In five seasons with the Patriots, he only had 7.5 sacks and saw his playing time diminish under Bill Parcells. He was let go after the 1994 season.
6 - Chris Singleton, LB - Arizona
The other first round pick (8th overall) the Patriots received from the Seattle trade in the 1990 draft was used in the selection of Chris Singleton. Needless to say, Singleton did nothing to provide any kind of pass rushing force for the Patriots. He played a total of 33 games, starting 22, in four seasons in New England and sacked the quarterback only four times. The best story coming from Singleton in 1990 was when he donated bone marrow to save his twin brother, Kevin, who was diagnosed with leukemia. I don't think Cortez Kennedy ever donated bone marrow.
5 - Hart Lee Dykes, WR - Oklahoma State
Hart Lee Dykes was selected in the first round (16th overall) in the 1989 draft. With New England football fans starved for some star power and excitement in the region, there were high hopes for Dykes, who caught 83 passes for 1,344 yards and 7 touchdowns in two seasons. Unfortunately, his career was cut short when he fractured his kneecap during the third pre-season game in 1991 and because of a freak eye injury he received during a bar room fight in 1990.
4 - Robert Edwards, RB - Georgia
When the Patriots failed to resign all-pro running back Curtis Martin during the 1998 offseason, the team was forced to draft a replacement. They chose to draft Robert Edwards with the 18th pick in the first round. He rushed for 1,115 yards for the Patriots during his rookie season, while averaging 3.8 yards per carry and nine rushing touchdowns. The future looked bright for Edwards until he blew out his knee while playing an NFL rookie flag football game on a beach in Hawaii during the Pro Bowl weekend. The injury was so bad, that Edwards severed an artery and was lucky his leg wasn't amputated below the knee. Although he was able to walk again and eventually play football again, he would never play for the Patriots again and he would never be able to recapture the success of his rookie season.
3 - Eugene Chung, OL - Virginia Tech
When the Patriots drafted Chung 13th overall in 1992, he became the first Korean American player to be drafted in the first round of an NFL draft. After starting all but one game his first two seasons, Chung landed himself in Bill Parcells' doghouse and was replaced by the more talented Bob Kratch at right guard. He would only play three more games for the Patriots in 1993 before the team left him exposed to the 1994 expansion draft.
2 - Chris Canty, DB - Kansas State
The New England Patriots selected Chris Canty, an energetic and swaggering cornerback with their first pick (29th overall) in the 1997 draft. New coach Pete Carroll began putting his own stamp on the team Bill Parcells brought to the Super Bowl the previous year. It's no wonder the team got progressively worse after Parcells left. When the Patriots drafted Canty, the cocky rookie was supposed to solidify the right cornerback position with Ty Law manning the other cornerback spot. Canty walked into Foxboro thinking he was better than he really was. Canty was nothing more than a disappointment for the Patriots and their fans, playing only 32 games, starting just 10. In just two seasons, Canty had a grand total of one interception for 12 yards. At least Ty Law lived up to the hype. Canty could not.
1 - Ken Sims, DE - Texas
Sims is the grand-daddy of all draft disappointments in Patriots history. He could never quite live up to the expectations of being the first overall pick in the 1982 NFL Draft. He only played one full season in eight total seasons with the Patriots. His best year came in 1985 when the Patriots went to the franchise's first Super Bowl when he had 5.5 sacks. He finished with only 16 sacks in his career.
Sims fell far short of the team's expectations, not because he didn't try; it was because he didn't like to practice hard. Sims garners an inauspicious nickname of "Game Day." The name derived from his lack of work habits on the practice field and he later was quoted by sports writers as saying "I'll be there on game day," hence the nickname. Did I mention he had only 16 sacks in 8 years? He didn't show up on "game day" either.
To follow up his lack of hustle and production, Sims was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine in Austin, Texas during the summer of 1990. The Patriots released Sims shortly after the arrest just prior to the 1990 season when he came to camp overweight and out of shape.
Ironically, the Patriots drafted Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett during the 1982 draft in the 2nd round (41st overall). It only took the Pats 40 picks after taking Sims before they got one right.
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Kevin Saleeba is a frequent contributor and columnist to Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Share your thoughts on this article, or send your questions to Kevin here.