Former Oregon Duck Colt Lyerla may not have been selected during the 2014 NFL draft, but it seemed like just a matter of time before a squad gave the dynamic talent an opportunity at the next level. The Green Bay Packers have given him that chance.
NFL: Around The League filled fans in on the details:
Packers sign TE Colt Lyerla after working out with the team last week.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) May 19, 2014
The Packers are hoping that Lyerla’s off-field issues are behind him and that they can help him mature as a person to fulfill his potential as a player. Among his various red flags were a one-game suspension, the fact that he unexpectedly quit the Oregon football team for personal reasons, a suspended license for driving violations and an arrest for allegedly using cocaine.
However, it’s a bit easier to overlook issues like that as an NFL team if the prospect in question has the type of measurables that Lyerla does, via Chris Sprow of ESPN:
No surprise to see Colt Lyerla sign, despite (ahem) a lack of references. 6-5, jumps 39", runs 4.6 at ~250 lbs. It plays. #packers— Chris Sprow (@SprowESPN) May 19, 2014
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report also weighed in, making particular note of just how talented of a prospect we are talking about:
With no off-field history, Lyerla would have been my No. 2 ranked TE in this class (behind Ebron) and a Rd2 grade.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) May 19, 2014
Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette passed along a quote from Lyerla’s agent on the matter:
Lyera's agent Vinnie Porter on his client: "He is a first round talent and he will be a great young man in Green Bay."— Mike Vandermause (@MikeVandermause) May 19, 2014
Lyerla may have made headlines for his off-field transgressions, but as a sophomore in 2012, he was making them for his performance in Chip Kelly’s offense. Lyerla caught 25 passes for 392 yards and six touchdowns and even carried the ball on occasion as a physical running back.
The fact that it was the Packers that signed Lyerla is noteworthy because free-agent Jermichael Finley is coming off neck surgery and is still a major question health-wise. For that same reason, the squad selected tight end Richard Rodgers in the third round of the draft and re-signed Andrew Quarless. It now seems like a potential return for Finley in Green Bay is out of the question, though nothing is certain just yet.
If Lyerla makes an impression before the season, look for him to compete for playing time on passing situations and carve out a role for himself in a dangerous offense led by star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
He isn’t the best blocker from the tight end spot, but he has soft hands and dynamic athleticism in the open field. Rodgers certainly spreads the ball around plenty, so Lyerla could make an impact as a rookie if he can remain focused and avoid off-the-field troubles.