This isn't exactly shocking news. It's a marriage that makes sense on a few levels. Kelly and the Eagles are obviously more familiar with Lyerla than any other organization in the NFL. And Kelly might just have an idea or two about how to use the 6'4", 242 lb. Lyerla, a guy who just happens to be able to run a sub 4.6 40 with a 40" vertical. Yeah.
He was recruited as a RB/LB out of high school. He converted to TE his freshman year. Because of a surplus of offensive weapons, Lyerla didn't exactly get a ton of touches in Oregon's prolific offense. However, he made the most of those touches. On only 34 receptions at Oregon, he gained 565 yards (16.6 Y/R) and scored 11 touchdowns. That's not all. He was a RB in high school, and the Ducks gave him carries out of the backfield. How'd he do? He took 16 carries for 94 yards (5.9 YPC) and 2 touchdowns. That's 13 TDs on 50 touches.
Physical specimen, freakish athlete, can line up all over the field on offense, knows how to get in the end zone and he happens to be a special teams contributor. Sounds like a Kelly guy. So, where's he going to go in the draft? Bottom of the 1st? Top of the 2nd?
Wellllllll, to say he had a rough 2013 would be a real understatement. In 2013, he missed a few games, left the team, and later plead guilty to possession of cocaine. So one might say he comes with a few concerns.
There's going to be a lot of speculation linking Lyerla to the Eagles. There's the obvious Chip Kelly connection. There's also the fact that the Eagles gave a guy named Michael Vick a chance after he was imprisoned on federal dogfighting charges. That relationship seemed to prove mutually beneficial, by the way. I'm not sure anyone could've foreseen Vick's reputation recovering quite as well as it has. The Eagles are one of the few organizations lucky enough to have the coaching strength and locker room leaders in place to minimize the risks of drafting someone like Lyerla.
He has plenty of motivation to stay in line, too. Obviously, his NFL career would be jeopardized (if not instantly toast) should he screw up. There's also the fact that he would go to jail. From the OregonLive.com article linked above:
He must also finish two years of probation -- under the supervision of the court instead of a probation officer -- 40 hours of community service, submit to random urinalysis, attend a certified treatment program and attend group meetings similar to Narcotics Anonymous. His community service can be completed anywhere, Perlow said.
The risk to the Eagles would be minimal. A low draft pick and a rookie contract. Should Lyerla misstep, he's just hurting himself. It wouldn't reflect poorly on the Eagles organization, the same way Aaron Hernandez's actions did not reflect poorly on the Patriots. The rewards could be tantalizing, however.
STRENGTHSGood athlete. Fluid route runner. Very good body control. Adjusts easily to the ball. Can create in the open field with very good run skills. Natural hands. Good catching radius. Functional blocker with enough playing strength to sustain. Highly competitive and determined to prove critics wrong. Is smart and hardworking.
Lacks ideal bulk strength to block in-line. Overly emotional and prone to outbursts following a dysfunctional childhood that offered little direction and much confusion related to a divorce. Not a disciplined team player. Off-the-field issues linger. Drops were too consistent (see West Virginia).
DRAFT PROJECTIONRounds 3-4
BOTTOM LINEA physically talented receiving tight end, Lyerla was overshadowed by the play of emerging freshman Johnny Mundt and litany of issues (suspensions, drugs, academics). Has overcome a lot of adversity stemming back to his youth and defied the odds to become an impactful performer. Talent grades could garner interest in the second round, but past history could easily knock him down several rounds and off many draft boards. Would benefit tremendously from a coach willing to serve as a strong father figure.
His projections of Lyerla being taken in the 3rd or 4th are pretty optimistic. Some teams will drop Lyerla off their draft boards completely. Different reports have him going as late as the 6th. As deep as this draft is, that's a possibility. And should the Eagles find themselves in a position to draft a second round talent in the third day of the draft? That might prove too good of an opportunity to pass up.