28

June

Cory’s Corner: Colt Lyerla worth the risk for the Packers

We’ve officially reached the dead point of the Packers’ season.

Colt Lyerla was taken by the Packers as undrafted rookie. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.

Colt Lyerla was taken by the Packers as an undrafted rookie. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds in addition to a 39-inch vertical.

You won’t see oversized guys moving in fridges and TVs into St. Norbert College dorms until July 25, so this is when things start to slow down a bit.

But until that day approaches, one of the most important positions heading into next season is tight end. And with Jermichael Finley’s status still uncertain, despite his nameplate still being attached in the locker room, the that job looks to be wide open.

And the more I examine it, why can’t Oregon standout Colt Lyerla be the next sure-handed tight end target for the next generation? He’s got impressive raw ability, has a knack to get open, maintains soft hands which is helpful for tough grabs in traffic and at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, he has the frame that will keep on the field on running and passing downs.

Everyone knows that Lyerla left his Oregon teammates early last season and also pled guilty to cocaine. But during his two-and-a-half years in Eugene, he played for two head coaches, which isn’t exactly easy for any kid, let alone one that saw his parents divorce at age 9.

The Packers can give something that Lyerla has never had before or has never taken advantage of before: A proven, successful structure and an ear to listen. More than anything, Lyerla needs to be placed into a routine that works to give him confidence, which will earn him trust with Aaron Rodgers. And also he’s going to need to be able to find players on the team that will allow him to explain where he’s coming from, which will allow Lyerla to trust his teammates.

Lyerla has shown off his athleticism to the Packers this spring with amazing leaping catches that have even wowed some members of the defense. He’s got the ability. There’s no doubt about that, which is why he made The Play of the Week on SportsCenter in high school.

Amazingly enough, Lyerla is a lot like Finley when the Packers drafted him as a 21-year-old in 2008. Finley had plenty of physical attributes and filled up a scout’s notebook with superlatives, but he also publicly criticized one of the best Packers passers of all-time and didn’t accept his role on an offense that had lots of firepower.

In the same light, the undrafted 21-year-old Lyerla has been blessed with countless physical tools but hasn’t been able to harness those abilities due to his lousy decision-making.

Ted Thompson gets a lot of criticism, fair and unfair, from fans wanting him to do more or less for the organization. But adding a guy like Lyerla was a no-brainer. The upside is that he finds a brotherhood in the Packers that can equally trust each other and naturally, his abilities come shining through.

However, unlike Finley, don’t expect Lyerla to unleash a public lashing directed at Rodgers when he doesn’t get the ball. This team is on the verge of another deep playoff run, something that Finley failed to be a part of when he watched the Packers win Super Bowl XLV while he nursed an injured knee.

Is Lyerla a risk? Sure. He could potentially disrupt the locker room and possibly derail the early portion of the season. Let’s not forget that if he didn’t have his off-the-field issues, most scouts would have graded Lyerla as the No. 2 tight end in last spring’s draft.

Which makes the three-year $1.530 million deal, an easy steal. There is no guaranteed money, so Lyerla knows that he has to earn everything back — trust, respect, playing time — in order to earn it.

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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26 Responses to “Cory’s Corner: Colt Lyerla worth the risk for the Packers”

  1. Big T says:

    Don’t see this as a risk anymore. I believe this will work out well. And if if he becomes a locker room cancer, guess what, we can trade him to the Vikings.

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  2. Nick Perry says:

    He played on ST at Oregon and was actually pretty decent. In 2012 he played 12 games and had 8 tackles on ST, 7 unassisted, 4 the following year. With so many talented WR this season, how many TE are the Packers going to keep will be a big question. This kid has so much upside he could take Taylors job this year, and be the starting TE next year. That might not be popular, but it’s a real possibility. Bostick better start to show up this year.

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    • dobber says:

      Since all Taylor contributes is on ST, I would not at all be surprised if Lyerla takes Taylor’s job if he can contribute to ST effectively.

      At this point, Taylor is a known commodity and the growth curve is pretty well done. Lyerla at least brings potential.

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  3. Stroh says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Sven says:

      So true. This has all been established and discussed to exhaustion

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

    • marpag says:

      So you don’t like that Lyerla has been called a “standout.” And in an effort to prove that Lyerla is not a “standout,” you yourself have called him “a standout.”

      Got it.

      Y’all been drinkin’ again, Stroh?

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      • Stroh says:

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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        • marpag says:

          Um, no, they are NOT AT ALL “mutually exclusive,” which would mean that no standout athlete could ever be a standout player… which is, of course, quite dumb.

          I won’t bother getting into the fact that the author simply called him the “Oregon standout” without adding either the word “player” or “athlete,” and that you are the one trying to split hairs between athletes and players.

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          • Stroh says:

            Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. Stroh says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Tarynfor12 says:

      I have never been on the Finley wagon,at least not the level some were,but in no way is this a ‘bashing’ of Finley.

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      • Stroh says:

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • marpag says:

      This article isn’t even close to a bashing of Finley. ?????

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  5. Tarynfor12 says:

    I think Lyerla has a very good chance of making the 53 because what we have isn’t enough,though that can change this camp,he’ll still make a leap over others in overall ability.

    I replied to a post over on @spotpackers that the toughest time for Lyerla would be the 5 weeks off between mini camp and training camp.

    Now as for him becoming a cancer in the locker room,if this happens,then perhaps the locker room wasn’t as strong as many believe it to be in the first place.

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    • Nick Perry says:

      Totally age with that. We’ll all see what he did with these 5 weeks off when he comes back for TC.

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    • Sven says:

      I think that it is very possible that Rodgers rises to the top among the Tight-ends. As Stroh mentioned Lyerla had a very limited college career, but has shown to be an excellent athlete. But it takes more than athleticism, many players who are extraordinary athletes don’t live up to the potential some imagine for them.

      Thompson saw something in Rodgers that others did not. In OTAs and mini camp Rodgers showed up in a big way. I expect that he will continue this into camp. Blocking will be what truly separates one above the rest.

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      • Mtn Cat says:

        Rodgers has the reputation of looking great until the pads come on. I hope he continues looking good with them on.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

        • marpag says:

          Um, huh??

          When exactly did Rodgers develop this “reputation?” You do realize he’s a rookie, right? Are you saying that he looked good in spring practice at Cal and then “disappeared when the pads came on” … and yet got drafted in the third round anyway?

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          • Ed Schoenfeld says:

            So called ‘expert’ draft analysts saw that Rodgers played in a college system that did not use a true TE, just a “big slot receiver” and classed him as a player who did not have any blocking ability, and then downgraded him as a receiving TE because he lacked route running skills form the slot receiver position.

            Those so-called experts completely ignored the fact that Rodgers had spent the two previous years (2011-2012) in a system that *did* use a true tight end IN A BLOCKING ROLE and that Rodgers became a good enough blocker to play as a freshman and WIN THE STARTING JOB IN HIS SOPHMORE YEAR.

            Fortunately, TT did not listen to these supposed experts, nor should we.

            The kid is not name DJWilliams, either.

            How about we wait until training camp before we evaluate his blocking skills on the pro level?

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            • Archie says:

              The kid was not a good blocker when playing TE in the film that I saw. Apparently his forte is catching the ball. And we all know TT excels at drafting guys who can pluck the ball.

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    • Stroh says:

      I don’t understand why anyone questions him being a cancer in the lockerroom. He had off field problems w/ the law, drug use and social media. None of those things has anything to do w/ what goes on in a lockerroom. Even the fact he quit the team, was only due to the fact he already knew he was going to be kicked off.

      Just another case of people twisting words to fit the perception they have of someone!

      I never heard that any of Lyerla’s teammates had anything bad to say about him or him being a disruptive force in the lockerroom.

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  6. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    As for Colt, I think we need to remember that he basically lost his senior season due to stupidity, and all of this “2nd best TE in the draft’ stuff was sheer projection.

    Not that I think he is bad prospect — I’m glad the kid is getting his chance to straighten up in Green Bay and I hope he is good enough to win a roster spot.

    But he *is* going to have to win it — Quarless, Bostick, Rodgers, and Taylor are all ahead of him, and for right now Stoneburner probably is, too.

    Training camp, once the pads go on, is going to be interesting for the TE group.

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  7. GBPDAN says:

    I thought he ran a 5.1 forty?…This is the first I’ve heard 4.6…I hope you’re right, that’s a big body with major quicks

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  8. Archie says:

    Big risk, even bigger reward. It still surprises me that 31 other teams passed on him as a free agent following the draft.

    Bostick, Rodgers and Lyerla is a rich haul at TE. Q and Taylor are now just security blankets. The top 3 are exciting. Bostick may be a 3 year guy but it’ll be like his first in that years 1 and 2 were largely developmental. Both Rodgers and Lyerla performed as well as could be hoped for in OTAs. They would make quite a triumvirate. I am very excited about our new TEs. New talent at TE and C, Bulaga is back, Harris is back, depth at QB and Devante Adams could be a super star waiting to happen with #12 thowing to him. What’s not to like about this offense? Defense may be a mess but offense looks golden to me.

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