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Josh Huff: Colt Lyerla can be better than Gronk, Graham

Jermichael Finley is determined to continue his career as a tight end for the Packers.

Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy has hinted at a reunion, too, but until that happens, the team hopes one of their many prospects at the position can develop into a difference-maker.

Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and Ryan Taylor made strides this spring, while third-round rookie Richard Rodgers reportedly dazzled coaches in offseason practices.

The dark-horse, though, is Colt Lyerla, the former Oregon play-maker who saw his NCAA career dry up due to a rash of off-the-field issues.

Signed in May, Lyerla's college game tape led one former teammate, Josh Huff -- now a rookie receiver for the Eagles -- to issue a string of lofty comparisons.

"There are tight ends in the league now I know he's better than -- an All-Pro tight end like Jimmy Graham," Huff told Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in May. "That's saying a lot. Guys like Tony Gonzalez, who's no longer in the league. Those athletic guys. Rob Gronkowski. I feel like he can be better than those guys."

Despite his 4.61 speed and 39-inch vertical jump, Lyerla scared away NFL scouts after quitting the team midway through Oregon's 2013 season before being arrested for cocaine possession.

"I wouldn't sign him. I wouldn't do that to my owner," one AFC personnel man told the Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn before the draft.

"As a freshman I compared him to Gronkowski," said another AFC scout. "They played him at tight end, H-back, fullback. In high school he was one of the top rushers in the nation. He really liked Chip Kelly. He became like his father because he really had a messed-up family background.

"When Chip left it really hurt him. He's got a lot of problems in his background. ... He's really intelligent. He's been pushed around his entire life and he has no confidence in himself off the field."

The Packers were willing to take a chance, signing Lyerla to a free-agent contract in May. One of the more fascinating prospects in Green Bay's camp, the rookie's supporters continue to suggest one thing: His future is up to him.

"Just a monster," former teammate Terrance Mitchell told the newspaper. "Colt is a beast. I don't know how to explain it. A monster, a beast. ...

"He could be anything he wants to be. He could be a top tight end in the NFL for sure."

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