NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones
Assuming New England remains dedicated to their two-tight end philosophy on offense, they may desire an athletic, versatile option in next year’s draft in order to assuage the damage created by Aaron Hernandez’s arrest and subsequent release. After the jump, one of the top junior prospects, Oregon’s Colt Lyerla, is profiled.
TE #15 Colt Lyerla, Oregon (6’5”, 246)
2011: 7-147-5 receiving (21.0)
2012: 25-392-6 receiving (15.7), 13-77-1 rushing (5.9)
Tall with long arms; has a relatively thin, albeit muscular build which should benefit from an NFL weight room. Ability to gain weight is not an issue; weighed 225 pounds as a high-school recruit and has subsequently gained more than twenty more pounds.
Lines up all over the field, including in the backfield, inline, as an H-back, and as a slot option; most frequent usage is with his hand on the ground as an inline option, followed by in the backfield of Oregon’s shotgun formations. Has also carried the ball on some occasions.
Surprisingly effective blocker given his relative lack of bulk; was asked to execute a variety of different blocking assignments in college (inline, motion, etc.) Possesses a high motor in the blocking game and will work to sustain. As a receiver, is at his best when attacking the seams downfield, although he has also been utilized as a receiver on flat routes out of the backfield at times. Very good hand-eye coordination allows him to compete for difficult passes; body control is a plus as well. Has the speed to challenge defenses, with quick acceleration to top speed; also averaged 15.7 yards per reception last season. Change-of-direction ability is impressive as well.
Overall, far from a finished product at this point because he spent almost all of his freshman season behind eventual 2012 seventh-round pick David Paulson (Pittsburgh Steelers), leaving him with just one year of starting experience. Evaluating his best fit at the pro level is somewhat difficult at this point as a consequence of his primary usage with the Ducks, where he is first and foremost a blocking option; his skill in that regard may not immediately translate to the NFL because of his lack of ideal bulk.
Additionally, he has considerable potential as a receiving option but is not often showcased as a target in the passing game, so some level of imagination is required. However, by making the same strides in his junior season as he did as a sophomore, he could position himself as one of the top tight ends available should he opt to forego his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.