Of the six quarterbacks selected in the 1983 NFL Draft, three have entered the Pro Football Hall of Famer. The New England Patriots could have had one of those but instead opted to go with a QB that started just 56 games for the organization and never established himself as the undisputed top option at the position.
Drafting Tony Eason over Dan Marino turned out to be a bad call. In fact, it is arguably the biggest draft-day regret the Patriots have had — at least according to Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News. Naming each team’s top regret through the years, it is not hard to see why Eason instead of Marino was the choice.
New England Patriots
The pick: QB Tony Eason, No. 15 overall in 1983
The miss: QB Dan Marino, No. 27 overall to Dolphins
If you didn’t take John Elway, Jim Kelly or Marino as your first-round QB in ’83, you should have real regrets. Put the Patriots in the same club as the Chiefs. Eason wasn’t as bad as Todd Blackledge, but he wasn’t even as good as Ken O’Brien. He did play in a Super Bowl against the 1985 Bears, but guess which QB led the only defeat of that team that season. Marino, in Miami on a Monday night.
Eason was released during his seventh season as a Patriots; at that point he had started the aforementioned 51 games — including New England’s Super Bowl XX loss. That day, he failed to complete a single pass on six attempts and was sacked three times. The team lost 46-10, and one has to wonder if the result would have been a different one had Dan Marino aligned under center.
Alas, we will never know. The Patriots, by the way, did come out on the right side of two regrets: the Denver Broncos’ decision to pick Tim Tebow over Devin McCourty in 2010, and the San Francisco 49ers going with Giovanni Carmazzi in 2000 when they could have had Tom Brady.