We always pay close attention to the Green Bay Packers right after the draft to see what Ted Thompson may do.
He always seems to find undrafted gems pretty regularly, but the pipeline has been a bit dry since Sam Shields came around during the Super Bowl season. This has admittedly led to some sub-par depth where the Packers generally are one of the best at finding and securing those unknown players who contribute.
So what about this find in Colt Lyerla?
Color me intrigued.
Lyerla is the most-recent addition to the Packers after their tryout period. As you may know this young man is a very talented player who left the Oregon Ducks program his junior year, and then ended up being arrested for cocaine possession. While Lyerla has made a few mistakes in his time, he has been attempting to change his lifestyle in this career comeback.
Green Bay is one of the few programs that is a great fit for Lyerla because of a fantastic coaching staff led by Mike McCarthy, strong leadership in the locker room in quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews, and receiver Jordy Nelson, and a low-key environment in Green Bay that should keep him off the radar and out of trouble.
There are not many programs that could offer all three of these things. This is the same team that was able to offer Johnny Jolly another chance, and he had an arguably rougher run-in with the law than Lyerla. Jolly also rewarded the Packers faith in him with a pretty good season last year – at least while he was healthy.
The Packers could have gotten a steal out of this pick-up. Lyerla is one of the most talented of all of the tight ends chosen in this year’s draft – arguably to the point where without the off the field issues he could have been neck and neck with top tight end Eric Ebron for the first tight end off the board, even as soon as number 12 to the New York Giants.
Lyerla’s measurables at the combine were simply insane, finishing near the top in the vertical jump, broad jump, and 40-yard dash (in which he finished only 1/100th of a second behind Ebron).
Lyerla had a pretty good college career as well, finishing with 34 receptions, 565 yards for a 16.6 yard average, and 11 TDs. Lyerla even played well in the H-back role, running for 94 yards on 16 attempts and 2 TDs for a healthy 5.9 yard average. Compare this to Jermichael Finley’s 76 receptions, 947 yards for 12.5 yards averaged, and 5 TDs during his 2-year college career. Finley may have caught more passes, but Lyerla did more with his. Both stand 6-4 and weigh around 240 pounds.
The thing that sticks out to me while watching Lyerla’s highlights in college is his willingness to lower his head and just plow through people. He fights for the ball and pulls it to him with both hands. The other thing I immediately thought when watching the highlights was, “This guy could possibly fill the John Kuhn role next year.” I know he is not the most polished blocker, but watching him out of the backfield is a pleasure, the kid simply fights for extra yardage. With enough training, he could be quite the player.
I could honestly go on and on about Lyerla’s potential, especially in an offense with arguably the best quarterback in the league in Aaron Rodgers utilizing his talent to its full potential. But none of it means anything if he does not stay out of trouble.
Can he do that here?
If there is a single organization in the league that could help him out and give him the support he needs, it is the Packers.
I have to say I am looking forward to seeing what this guy can accomplish in training camp and OTAs, because his film makes me think we could have replaced Finley with an even more talented, possible star in the making.
What do you think about the Packers find in Lyerla?
Good, bad, possibly ugly?