Moritz Boehringer, the rookie wide receiver from Germany who was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, was cut by the team on Saturday before the 53-man roster deadline.
As expected, the Vikings signed him to their practice squad the following day.
Boehringer was always a long shot to make the main roster, because the extent of his football experience was essentially playing club football in Germany. He was the first NFL player to be drafted directly from another country.
His athleticism, size and speed suggest NFL potential. Boehringer ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at his pro day at 6’4 and 227 pounds. His learning curve was steep, however, because of his limited football experience.
"He’s starting from way, way, way behind," Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner said during minicamp.
The other unique aspect of Boehringer’s story was that the Vikings are his favorite NFL team. His interest in football grew from stumbling across a YouTube clip of Adrian Peterson. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock even made an on-air plea to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer during the draft on Boehringer’s behalf.
Boehringer’s Vikings fandom certainly made Vikings fans appreciate him not just as an intriguing prospect with a fascinating route to the NFL, but as one of their own.
Zimmer was less interested in Boehringer’s story and more interested in him focusing on getting up to speed on the field.
"I want to kind of end the story to be honest with you," Zimmer said. "I want him to be here playing football and not being a celebrity. I’ve given him a hard time already about being on TV shows and stuff like that. It’s football now and it’s time to work. The feel-good story is over."
Preseason games are often the best indicator of a player’s preparedness, and Boehringer didn’t exactly make a mark. He played nine offensive snaps total this preseason, all against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1.
Boehringer’s NFL story isn't over yet, though. On the practice squad, he can develop his skills and perhaps even find his way to the 53-man roster one day. With that combination of size and speed, he’s not someone to count out yet.