EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –The Moritz-to-Minnesota storyline mimics a fairytale, but he's much more than a gimmick.
German wide receiver Moritz Boehringer became the first player in NFL history to be drafted straight from Europe when the Vikings selected him in the sixth round* *Saturday. Having never played football before the age of 17, Boehringer happened to see a YouTube clip of Adrian Peterson. Now 22, Boehringer will share a locker room with the running back who inspired him to play.
The story is a great one, but it's no more than a bonus for Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman.
"He was on our board pretty high," Spielman said of Boehringer. "We drafted him because of what he is as a football player and what we project him to potentially be."
Spielman said he received a lead from an unnamed but trusted source on Boehringer's ability and intent to enter the NFL Draft. The next step was an ironic one, considering Boehringer's own storyline – Spielman took to YouTube, of course.
Spielman, along with Vikings scouts, liked what they saw of Boehringer on tape and followed up.
"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]. We just wanted to see where his football knowledge was, how he was able to communicate, and we were very impressed. And then we had another workout following that."
The GM said the Vikings weren't the only team interested in Boehringer, and they're glad they got their hands on him.
"I knew how many visits he had been on and how many teams [were interested] after his workout," Spielman said. "There were a couple teams we had heard just by kind of following the interest in that kid, so we had some recon' on the back end of him potentially not being there much longer."
After so much investment and research, the GM said they didn't hesitate to snag Boehringer in the sixth round.
"We were very intrigued with his potential, his upside," Spielman said. "You can't find that size and speed and all the athletic test numbers that he had.
You watch him catch the ball, and his workouts, and his ability to get into and out of his cuts and drop his weight at that size, and the quickness that he has," Spielman added.
Boehringer's road to the NFL is an unconventional one, but Spielman doesn't shy away from unconventional when seeking out players who will best fit the Vikings roster.
"We spend a lot of time trying to look under every rock," Spielman said. "I think our job is, regardless, when we get a hint that someone may have the ability to play at this level, that's our job to go out and uncover it.
"I truly believe our guys do a great job," Spielman said. "It's emphasized that we're not just going to scout college, we're not just going to scout guys that are in the pros, we're going to look at every angle possible to try to find players."
Boehringer has yet to practice or play alongside American football players, so a bit of mystery remains around the wide receiver who gained 6,000-plus Twitter followers just hours after being drafted.
"Truly, the only thing you have to go off of is the YouTube tape and the physical workout," Spielman said. "It will be exciting to see when he comes in here."