WELCOME TO THE BIG SHOW: Moritz Boehringer
The team at Vikings Territory has been busy working to get to know each of our newest Vikings draft selections, and this week we will give you a chance to learn everything we know about these players through our reintroduction of the “Welcome to the Big Show” series. Next up is German wide receiver phenom Moritz Boehringer.
HEIGHT: 6′ 4″
WEIGHT: 227 pounds
ARM LENGTH: 34.5 inches
HANDS: 10.25 inches
PRO DAY RESULTS
40-YARD DASH: 4.43 seconds
BENCH PRESS: 17 repetitions (of 225 pounds)
VERTICAL JUMP: 39 inches
BROAD JUMP: 10 feet, 11 inches
20-YARD SHORT SHUTTLE: 4.10 seconds
3-CONE: 6.65 seconds
Boehringer’s journey to the NFL didn’t begin on an American football field, nor did he start playing football in high school like most American children. The rookie wide receiver was a soccer player in his hometown of Aalen, Germany for seven years before stumbling across an Adrian Peterson highlight on Youtube. When he was 17 years old, Boehringer watched in awe as Peterson danced, darted, and dashed his way through NFL defenses — things the young German knew he could do on the football field.
[quote_center]His favorite team? The Minnesota Vikings.[/quote_center]
But Aalen wasn’t a hub for American football, and Boehringer’s parents weren’t exactly the sporting type. His father, Guenter, is an engineer, and Boehringer’s mother, Fassmeyer, works in a museum. To pursue his dream of playing the sport, Boehringer needed to venture 45 minutes out of Aalen, where soccer — like in most European towns — was an ever-popular tradition. Thus, he packed his bags and headed for Crailsheim, a small city in southern Germany.
Today, Boehringer is majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Aalen University and is expected to graduate with his degree next year. According to Sports Illustrated, his nickname in native Germany is “Silence.”
As the first player ever drafted to an NFL team straight from Europe, Boehringer has absolutely zero college production. But after just three seasons in Germany’s professional football league, “Mo Bo” put together one of the most impressive stat sheets ever.
He joined the Crailsheim Titans under-19 junior team in 2011 shortly after watching Peterson’s rookie highlight tape. Just two years later, Boehringer played two seasons (2013-14) for Crailsheim’s semi-pro team, totaling 94 catches for 2,866 yards and 41 touchdowns. More impressive, though, were Boehringer’s contributions elsewhere on the field. In 2013, her rushed the ball nine times for 112 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also returned three of his six interceptions — while playing defensive back — for scores.
In 2015, Boehringer joined the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns and introduced himself to the world with an eye-popping display of overseas dominance, winning the German Football League’s Rookie of the Year for his outstanding efforts.
Despite running through, past, and around every defensive back he played against, Boehringer finished his final 16-game season in Germany with a paltry (by NFL standards) 59 receptions for 1,232 yards and 13 touchdowns. The numbers don’t jump off the screen, but wait until you see the film; Boehringer was a one-man wrecking machine in Europe, and his stat sheet was impressive enough to catch Rick Spielman’s eye in Minnesota.
- Measurable data that puts him in the same athletic class as current NFL wide receivers Andre Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson, and DeVante Parker
- Height — 6’4″ — to win most 50/50 battles and jump ball situations
- Speed to beat defenses deep and contribute immediately as a gunner on special teams
- Short-area quickness to make defenders miss in space
- Quick-twitch ability to break out of routes with acceleration and create immediate separation from cornerbacks
- Breakaway speed to turn any play, from quick screens to “go” routes, into a touchdown
- Natural hands catcher who snatches the football out of the air
- According to Rick Spielman, has a high “football IQ” and learns quickly
- Limitless potential that will require consistent coaching
- Zero-to-little experience against top-level competition
- Remains to be seen if height and speed can translate to the NFL
- Three years playing American football at sub-DIII levels
- Played in an offense with 60-70 plays; in the NFL, that number jumps to at least 500 plays with multiple shifts, route combinations, and responsibilities
- Has never faced consistent press coverage, and may struggle initially against the NFL’s larger, more physical cornerbacks
NFL.COM PROFILE: Lance Zierlein concluded that Boehringer is very similar to Jeff Janis and has the “feast-or-famine” potential teams crave in late-round prospects. Has the size and speed to make the transition to the NFL, albeit with a steep learning curve.
MMQB: One anonymous NFL assistant coach said Boehringer was worth a late-round selection, and that the team who chose the German wide receiver would have “six months” to determine his potential in the league.
BLEACHER REPORT: The Team Stream crew graded Boehringer as a sixth-round prospect, saying that his “size and speed are hard to bet against.”
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PRO DAY: It’s worth noting that Boerhinger attended Florida Atlantic’s Pro Day before the NFL Draft and “wowed” NFL scouts in attendance. His numbers, highlighted above, would have put him inside the top five among all wide receivers who tested at the NFL Scouting Combine last February. Coaches asked Boehringer to beat press coverage, block as a tight end — a position he could play in the NFL — and catch poorly-thrown passes from attending quarterbacks. He did it all, sparking league-wide interest that eventually landed the German prospect in Minnesota as a sixth-round selection.
“He was on our board pretty high,” Spielman said of Boehringer following the draft. “We drafted him because of what he is as a football player and what we project him to potentially be.”
On the third day of the draft, Boehringer was a prominent figure at the NFL’s Chicago set. He spoke with the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock and shared that the Vikings showed more interest than any other team in the league. Mayock, in response, texted Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and pleaded the team to draft the German wide receiver.
The Vikings did just that, making Boehringer the 180th-overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. Their research began with a Youtube video, but it didn’t stop there. “We were down at his Pro Day,” Spielman said. “We brought him up on the Top 30 visit, [had him] spend some time with our offensive coaches, myself and [Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer].” That visit convinced Spielman that Boehringer wasn’t just a potential free agent — he was worth one of the team’s eight draft picks.
“Truly, the only thing you have to go off of is the YouTube tape and the physical workout,” he said. “It will be exciting to see when he comes in here.”
Readers at Vikings Territory loved the Boehringer pick, with 78 percent of voters giving the Vikings an “A” or “B” following the selection.
THE VIKINGS FIT
On a roster crowded with talent at multiple positions, Boehringer faces an even tougher challenger to make the Vikings’ 53-man roster. Despite his size, speed, and untapped athletic abilities, Boehringer joins a team with virtually zero spots to fill at wide receiver. First-round pick Laquon Treadwell projects to start immediately outside, and opposite him, second-year star Stefon Diggs will man Mike Wallace’s old position.
Seeing as Boehringer isn’t a slot receiver, there truly isn’t a place for him — at least on the offense — to make a meaningful contribution this season. Jarius Wright will almost assuredly hold his spot as the team’s third wide receiver, pigeon-holing Boehringer into a role on special teams.
Boehringer’s straight-line speed makes him a perfect candidate as a gunner on punt coverage, or, in a situation where Cordarrelle Patterson is no longer a Viking, as a return man on kick returns. As Mayock said, Zimmer likes “big football players” at every position, and Boehringer certainly has the measurables to stick around through August with the Vikings.
But where will the German land, and can he develop enough to force himself onto the depth chart at wide receiver? With Adrian Peterson still in the backfield, it’s hard to imagine offensive coordinator Norv Turner regularly throwing three, four, or even five wide receivers on the field to accommodate the team’s logjam at the position.