Colt Lyerla: Why the New York Jets should Draft the TE


Jan. 3, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA: Oregon Ducks tight end

Colt Lyerla

(15) against the Kansas State Wildcats during the 2013 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Oregon defeated Kansas State 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Based on talent alone, Colt Lyerla would be a first round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Arguably, Lyerla is the most talented tight end in the entire NFL Draft. In just two seasons as an Oregon Duck, Lyerla scored eleven touchdowns, with 565 yards on thirty four career receptions. Unfortunately, Lyerla left the team after two games of the 2013 season.

Just three weeks into the 2013 season, Colt Lyerla quit the Oregon Ducks football team, in a move that stunned the nation. Just days later, Lyerla was arrested for unlawful possession of cocaine. Before the 2013 season, Lyerla would have most likely been either a first round pick, or a second round pick. But after he was arrested,his draft stock took a huge blow.

Aside from his cocaine arrest, it was noted that Lyerla was in trouble with the law in the past, having his drivers licenses removed in 2013, after four driving tickets in the past 24 months. Lyerla also had his fair share of controversial tweets ( he has since deleted his account). While Lyerla is a tremendous talent, he also carries a lot of baggage that NFL teams will have to accept.

When Lyerla is on the field, he is a dominant player. He has great speed for a tight end, who runs great routes, and possesses great hands. Strictly based on his play, Lyerla has drawn comparisons to Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski, which is very high praise for a college athlete. A very valuable aspect of his game that is not talked about enough is his ability to block. The Jets have been in need for a pass catching tight end for years, and also can use a blocking tight end. In Lyerla, they can get both.

In a way, Lyerla reminds me of Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict before the draft. While I feel Lyerla is even more of a red flag, both are similar in terms that based on talent alone, they would be first round picks, but Burfict wound up going undrafted. Today, Burfict is arguably the Bengals best defensive player, and has turned his life around.

One thing to note about Lyerla is that he has always been considered highly competitive, and always had the will to win. Those are traits for a player that can certainly not be taught. It should also be noted that since his arrest, Lyerla has been out of the spotlight, and seems to have turned his life around. At the NFL combine, Lyerla opened up about his time in jail, and his cocaine arrest. Lyerla said ” I can’t really say too much about that, but it is something I deeply, deeply regret and it is a mistake I’ll have to live with the rest of my life”. When asked about his time in jail, Lyerla said ” That was huge for me. It gave me a lot of time to self-reflect and realize that’s a place I never want to be again.”.

Recently, Lyerla has moved away from home, and has stayed out of trouble since. When asked about his future in the NFL, Lyerla said ” I put myself in a position where my back’s against the wall, to the point that if I do not do everything perfect and the right way, I won’t be able to play football, let alone be successful in any shape or form.” From that quote alone, it seems like a guy who really wants to forget his past, and move on. While he obviously needs to back those words up, Lyerla is a guy I hope the Jets draft in the later rounds.

Lucky for the Jets, the team has 12 picks in this years draft. Drafting a guy like Lyerla in the 6-7th round may turn out to be a complete steal, if Lyerla stays out of trouble of course. If Lyerla unfortunately gets in trouble again, missing on one player out of 12 is not a huge deal. I feel the gain out ways the risk in terms of the Jets and Lyerla. While that may not be the same for other teams with fewer picks, the Jets are in a position to take a chance.

If Lyerla is drafted by the Jets and can stay out of trouble, the Jets found themselves a tremendous talent.