Keith Byars the pass catching running back
Keith Byars may have been drafted as a running back however in the NFL he was transformed into a receiver listed as a running back. Byars, who finished second in the 1984 Heisman Trophy balloting to Doug Flutie, was drafted with the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 1986 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
The bruising running back out of Dayton Roth High School led the Eagles in rushing as a rookie with 577 yards, which turned out to be a career high. As Randall Cunningham emerged as the Eagles’ franchise quarterback, Byars’ rushing yards held steady during his first three seasons in the league.
However by the 1988 season, Byars started become more of a threat as a receiver than a runner. That season, the Ohio State Buckeye caught 72 passes for 705 yards and four touchdowns. At the time, Byars’ 72 receptions that season was the third highest total in Eagles history.
Byars continued as a receiver for Buddy Ryan’s club. During the 1990 campaign, Byars increased his production to 819 receiving yards on 81 catches. which turned out to be his career high and the third most receptions in the NFL that season.
During his 15 year NFL career, Byars totaled 5,661 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns compared to 3,109 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground. He also threw for five touchdowns, including four in 1988.
Following seven seasons with Philadelphia, Byars spent three-and-a half seasons with the Miami Dolphins, the first of which in 1993 resulted in Byars only trip the Pro Bowl.
He finished up the 1996 season with the New England Patriots en-route to Super Bowl XXXI. Byars caught four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown in a 35-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers Byars’ only appearance in the championship game.