Sixth-round draft picks are rarely the talk of draft weekend, but Minnesota Vikings sixth-rounder Moritz Boehringer was clearly the exception to that rule Saturday. Despite having a fledgling grasp of conversational English, Boehringer has made a name for himself that led to one of the stranger moments in recent draft history.
A wide receiver from Aalen, Germany, Boehringer went from being a soccer player to a football player thanks to YouTube.
As a 17-year old, he saw a video of Adrian Peterson and became enamored with the NFL. But, unlike others who have a dream of playing pro football, he had the talent to back it up – especially after putting together an amazing pro day, running a sub-4.4 40-yard dash and catching everything in sight. Throw in that he is 6-foot-4 and weighs 229 pounds, he can be an imposing target.
But, what made it surreal on Saturday was that one of his biggest fans was NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who, upon learning that the Vikings were his favorite team, openly lobbied for Boehringer.
The Vikings were listening and made him their selection when they got back on the clock.
For his part, Boehringer was hopeful he would get drafted, but had no idea whether or not it would happen. If he was going to get drafted, he wanted it to be by his favorite team.
“I hoped I would be drafted by the Vikings, but you never know what can happen on draft day,” Boehringer said.
To say his journey to the NFL is a long, circuitous route isn’t hyperbole. He played two seasons with the Crailsheim Titans of the club team circuit and put up video game numbers, catching 94 passes for 2,866 yards and 41 touchdowns. That got him a chance to play in the German Football League, playing for the Swabisch Hall Unicorns (Go Corns!). In 21 games, he caught 70 passes for 1,461 yards and 16 touchdowns, which prompted him to reach for the brass ring of the NFL.
His said it will be thrilling to meet Peterson, but he has been forewarned about what hundreds of others have heard in the past – beware of shaking hands with A.P.
“I’ve heard he has a very strong handshake,” Boehringer said. “I will be prepared for that.”
Some saw the on-air plea from Mayock to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer as a comedic bit trying to get a foreigner on an NFL roster, but Zimmer said that he has been on the Vikings radar for some time.
“We had him up for our top 30 dinner, we went down to his workout, I talked to (Bill) Parcells earlier about his athletic ability,” Zimmer said in an NFL Network interview following the selection. “We’ve talked about him for quite a while.”
Boehringer’s work isn’t done yet. After he comes to Minnesota for the post-draft minicamp, he will be heading back to where it all started for him – at the XPE Sports workout facility in Boca Raton, Fla.
The odds will likely remain against him, but his dream is still alive and that is what draft weekend is all about.
“It was really a fun story and that’s kind of what the draft is all about – making dreams come true,” Zimmer said. “(It was) a chance for anybody in the world, if they have the right ability to play professional football, to realize their dreams. It was funny, but it was also a really touching moment.”