The Curious Case of Colt Lyerla

Image courtesy of Blacksportsonline.com

While the tight end has always been considered a hybrid position; a combination of offensive lineman and wide receiver, the ‘Joker’ tight end primarily concentrates on the receiving aspect while possessing freakish physical attributes.

Kellen Winslow Sr. was considered the first of this type and current players like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Vernon Davis have carried the torch.

Entering the 2014 draft, former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla was vying for a spot on one of 32 NFL teams on draft day. It didn’t happen. In his last season with Oregon, Lyerla had a less than impressive campaign accounting for three receptions for 26 yards in only three games. However in 2012 he had 25 receptions for 392 yards, six touchdowns to go along with 13 carries for 77 yards and an additional score. He would lead the Pac-12 in yards-per-catch at 15.7.

Factor these numbers in with his physical makeup. At 6’5”, 247 pounds along with 4.65 speed and a wide catch radius, he has the makeup of the next ‘Joker’.

Unfortunately, his college career would take a most unusual turn.

The first indication of a problem was a fall out between Lyerla and head coach Mark Helfrich after he missed the September 14th contest against Tennessee due to unspecified ‘circumstances’. That was soon followed up when Lyerla did not make the October 5th trip to Colorado at which point Helfrich noted that he had been suspended, however a reason for the suspension was not given.

It then came to light the Lyerla fell out of favor with many school authorities for using social media to make insensitive conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. The drama wouldn’t end there as Lyerla left the Oregon program and stated he would not seek a transfer; he would attempt to pursue his career in the NFL. His sudden departure was said to be for personal reasons and it was declared that he left the school on good terms.

Alas, Lyerla hadn’t hit rock bottom as shortly thereafter he was arrested and plead guilty for cocaine possession.

At the end of the 2012 season, many draftnik’s had him pegged as the second best tight end in this year’s draft and a low-end number one pick. Now, the same draftnick’s had him going no earlier than the third round while several had him not being drafted at all. The later would be correct.

As many pundits predicted, Lyerla was invited to February’s combine and took the aforementioned by surprise running a 4.49 40 yard dash, besting a more highly hyped Jace Amaro all while appearing very confident. However, scouts I’ve heard from said that ‘behind the scenes’ he appeared distant and distraught.

At last glance, the Green Bay Packers have taken a flier on the talented enigma and only time will tell how this story will end. Will he beat the odds or will he be deemed unworthy of a roster spot?

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