On the final day of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected Germany's Moritz Boehringer, a wide receiver who most recently played for a German team known as the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. Boehringer becomes the first German-born player without any playing experience on American soil to hear his name called during the NFL draft.
Boeringer's path to the NFL began when in 2012 when he happened upon a YouTube clip of Vikings star Adrian Peterson. From there, Boehringer began playing in local leagues, choosing to play receiver over quarterback as he found the latter "boring," as he told SB Nation in an interview before the draft. From there, he escalated up the through the ranks until reaching the top level of German football this past year.
The Vikings are Boeringer's favorite team and on the NFL Network broadcast of the draft on Saturday, Mike Mayock made a plea to Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer to take the German receiver. Zimmer didn't take long to call Mayock and the two had a brief conversation.
Though different in background, Boehringer proved attractive to NFL teams the same reason as many of his American counterparts: potential. Few players at any position measure 6-foot-4, 227 pounds and have the ability to run the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds. Boehringer also ran the 3-cone drill in 6.65 seconds, leaped 39 inches in the vertical jump and managed 17 reps on the 225-pound bench. Talent evaluators rarely find such an impressive combination of physical tools in one prospect, which helps explain why Boehringer leapfrogged hundreds of better-known American players.
What little experience Boehringer has came in a league unfamiliar to most, the German Football League (GFL). He played just one year with the Unicorns, registering 70 receptions for 1,461 yards and 16 touchdowns. For his efforts, the league nominated him as one of the five Player of the Year candidates for 2015.
Highlights of Boehringer's play show a superior athlete capable of taking the top off the defense. They also show a league replete with undersized, slow defenders with no hope of handling such an imposing threat. It remains unclear whether Boehringer can handle the jump to NFL competition.
After the season, Boehringer's name began to appear on the NFL's radar. He secured an invite to Florida Atlantic University's Pro Day, allowing many teams to view the German wideout for the first time. Boehringer didn't disappoint, and soon after he appeared on draft websites across the Internet including NFL.com.
Though Boehringer likely requires time while developing into an NFL-caliber receiver, his athleticism could allow for a more immediate impact on special teams. His size and speed compare favorably to Cordarrelle Patterson, one of the league's most electric returners. Boehringer also has experience at defensive back, perhaps making him a candidate for a coverage unit on special teams.
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