Green Bay Packers sign former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla

Former Oregon Ducks tight end Colt Lyerla was considered a first-round talent by some evaluators, but off-the-field concerns kept his name from being called at the 2014 NFL Draft.

Despite the issues, the Green Bay Packers still brought in Lyerla for a rookie minicamp over the weekend and it appears they liked what they saw from him -- the club signed Lyerla on Monday.

Once one of the top recruits to come out of the Portland area, Lyerla starred in a variety of different roles for Oregon from 2011-12 under then-head coach Chip Kelly, who left to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2012 season. Lyerla was dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules last year, though, and weeks later was charged with cocaine possession. He plead guilty to the charge, and went through a barrage of questions about his background at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

"(Lyerla has) done things in his college career, and we're fully aware of everything that every prospect has done on and off the field," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said last week. "And with that, we felt that he's earned the opportunity as a tryout player to earn a spot to go to training."

Clearly, McCarthy was excited by Lyerla's performance during the minicamp.

The Packers drafted a tight end -- Richard Rodgers of Cal -- in the third round earlier this month, but the signing of Lyerla makes sense given the uncertainty about former star Jermichael Finley, who remains a free agent. McCarthy has said in the past that he's hopeful that Finley, who underwent spinal-fusion surgery in October, will be cleared medically and will play for the team in 2014.

The 6-foot-4, 242-pound Lyerla would certainly be able to give McCarthy an athletic weapon who can line up all over the field. He was one of the top performers among tight ends at the combine in the 40-yard dash (4.61 seconds), vertical jump (39 inches) and broad jump (10-8). In his final full season at Oregon (2012), he caught 25 passes for 392 yards and six touchdowns while also being used as a running back on occasion.

If nothing else, Lyerla could develop into a standout on special teams for Green Bay if he manages to stay focused on football.

The team also signed third-round pick DE Khyri Thornton along with undrafted rookies Charles Clay, a defensive back from Hawaii, and Luther Robinson, a defensive end from Miami, on Monday. The club waived TE Raymond Webber.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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