It says something about how NFL teams weigh character into their evaluations that Colt Lyerla didn't get drafted last weekend.
His talent suggests he should be have been one of the first tight ends off the board. His past made him roundly unwanted.
So Lyerla now is trying to make it on a tryout basis with the Green Bay Packers.
Among the #Packers tryout players is former Oregon TE Colt Lyerla. Google him. Not enough twitter space to adequately describe him.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) May 16, 2014
Well said, Rob.
Lyerla was a Rivals.com five-star prospect and the No. 26 player nationally who committed to Chip Kelly and Oregon in 2011 and appeared bound for stardom in the Ducks' multi-faceted, up-tempo offense. Lyerla averaged 21 yards per catch as a freshman, and five of his seven receptions went for touchdowns. In 2012, he caught 25 passes for 392 yards and six touchdowns and added 77 rushing yards on 13 carries as an occasional backfield threat.
But what was supposed to be a breakout season in 2013 turned out to be a personal disaster. He was suspended for a game and then later left the team. A few weeks after that in October, Lyerla was arrested for (that was compounded when he ran from the cops) and charged with cocaine possession, which he later pled guilty to.
Lyerla didn't discuss the matter in great detail with the media at the NFL scouting combine but did appear contrite and hopeful he could turn his life around.
"I think the biggest thing for me is just to be honest and to show remorse, where remorse is due, and just do my best to prove that I've changed and I'm changing and I've matured since I made those mistakes," he said in February.
Lyerla worked out for scouts at Portland State's pro day, but only three NFL teams were in attendance that day — with the Packers being one of them. Still, with his size (6-foot-4, 242 pounds) and athleticism (which was on display in a fine combine workout that included a 4.61-second 40-yard dash), the thinking was that someone would take a chance on Lyerla, either as a late draft pick or signed as an undrafted free agent.
But Lyerla must work just to get a contract for the right to go to future Packers OTAs and, eventually, training camp. He must continue to show that contrition, work hard, fit in and — good gracious, most of all — not run afoul of the law at all. Then, and only then, will he have a chance to capitalize on his rare talent.
Green Bay would be an interesting spot for Lyerla to land. The Packers drafted Richard Rodgers at the position in Round 3, and haven't re-signed Jermichael Finley (yet) and have only lesser investments at the position in former fifth-rounder Andrew Quarless, former seventh-rounder Ryan Taylor and a slew more of undrafted players.
Can Lyerla make it? If he does, it will be far more than about his ability to play football.
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