One of the most talented tight end prospects in this year’s NFL Draft is Colt Lyerla. A former player for Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly at Oregon, Lyerla has all the talent and credentials that a team would look for in a rookie tight end. He’s fast, has great hands, is versatile and is one of the bigger, more explosive tight ends in the draft. He has all the talent to become of the better tight ends in the NFL.
So, why is he nowhere to be found on NFL Draft boards? He has a character issue that is big enough to make teams think of him as undraftable.
Lyerla has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. After just two games in the 2013 season, he dismissed himself from the team for what he called personal reasons. Just two weeks later, he was arrested for cocaine possession where he later plead guilty. He was sentenced to two years of probation for his drug arrest. This has made teams shy away from him in this upcoming draft, and his first-round talent has slipped all the way to becoming a late round draft pick or even going undrafted.
The Eagles, despite Lyerla’s history, should not let this happen.
Philadelphia under Kelly has kept multiple tight ends on the roster. Lyerla, based on his history with Kelly, would be a great fit in the Eagles’ offense. His best season in college was under Kelly where he had six receiving touchdowns and one rushing. Kelly could find a way to use Lyerla in this offense. Also, despite not playing most of the season, at this past week’s Combine Lyerla showed he still has all the talent to play in the NFL. He ranked among the top three tight ends in the 40-yard dash and jumps. He can still be a valuable asset in this league based on his skill-set.
When it comes to his issues, Lyerala has been working on fixing them. He said that going to jail gave him time to reflect on some of the choices he had made, and he decided to better himself as a person. He has moved away from his hometown where he believed he was mostly influenced into bad behavior. He has also spent the last couple of weeks training for the combine and the draft, focusing on football. He is trying to make turns for the better and prove that he deserves a chance in the NFL.
Even though the Eagles have tight ends on their roster, only one may be sticking around during the offseason. Zach Ertz is the only one who is safe from being cut this offseason. Brent Celek has always been rumored to be a cap casualty, although his productive 2013 season may let him stick around. James Casey, despite a huge contract, was a huge disappointment this offseason and could be cut before free agency begins. With question marks regarding the tight end spot for Philadelphia, Lyerla would fit nicely. He was most productive and behaved when Kelly coached him in 2012. This could be the coaching and mentoring he needs to stay out of trouble. If the Eagles draft him late, he could prove to be the steal of the 2014 NFL Draft.