10 biggest first-round draft busts in Philadelphia Eagles history

Roger Goodell (L), Danny Watkins (R) (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Roger Goodell (L), Danny Watkins (R) (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles (Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) /

. Leroy Keyes, running back. 2. player. 54. .

The Eagles ignore Mean Joe Greene and, instead, draft Leroy Keyes.

If you think the Eagles’ decision to draft JJ Arcega-Whiteside in 2019 over D.K. Metcalf was bad or if you’re still dealing with a bit of buyer’s remorse after watching Philadelphia choose Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson a year later, you may want to sit down for this one. Neither of those decisions holds a candle to what your beloved Birds did in 1969.

What if we told you after the Buffalo Bills drafted O.J. Simpson with the first-overall pick in that year’s NFL Draft and after the Atlanta Falcons went with George Kunz at number two, that the Eagles passed on Mean Joe Greene to take Leroy Keyes out of Purdue at number three?

Now, in fairness, Keyes was no slouch. He was a two-time Unanimous All-American in 1967 and 1968, a Second-team All-Big Ten nod in 1966, and a two-time First-team All-Big Ten nod in 1967 and 1968. However, he was never an NFL All-Pro. He never made a Pro Bowl.

He racked up 368 career rushing yards and three touchdowns before the Eagles switched his position from tailback to defensive back in 1971. Meanwhile, Joe Greene appeared in 181 regular-season games and another 17 postseason games with the mighty Steelers of the 70s.

The result of that run was four Super Bowl wins (IX, X, XIII, XIV), two NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards (1972, 1974), the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year nod in 1969, and the NFL Man of the Year Trophy in 1979.

In all, Greene earned five First-team All-Pro nods (1972–1974, 1977, 1979), three Second-team All-Pro nods (1971, 1975, 1976), and ten Pro Bowl appearances (1969–1976, 1978, 1979).

He’s a member of the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, the
NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Disparity? We think so. Leroy Keyes would occupy the top spot on this list if not for a first-rounder that never played for Philly at all.