Adam Thielen has risen from an undrafted Division II football player to an All-Pro in the NFL.
Along the way, the Vikings wide receiver has continually earned the praise and respect of his peers.
That was evident Monday night as the Pro Bowler made his first-ever appearance on the NFL’s Top 100 list by snagging the No. 36 spot. Players’ votes determine the rankings in the annual list.
“I try to win on every play,” Thielen said on the show. “I think the biggest thing for me is consistency. Not to have one crazy play, I want to be able to do it every time … over and over and over and over and just help this team win games.”
Thielen joined the Vikings as an undrafted rookie out of Minnesota State, Mankato in the spring of 2013, and spent that season on the practice squad.
He was a special teams standout in 2014 and 2015 before he burst onto the scene as a receiver in 2016 with 69 catches for 967 yards and five touchdowns.
Thielen then put together an All-Pro and Pro Bowl season in 2017, setting career highs with 91 receptions for 1,276 yards, which was good for fifth in the NFL in receiving yards. He also added four scores.
“He came out of nowhere for a lot of people,” said Broncos (and former Vikings) quarterback Case Keenum. “For me, he’s just keeps getting open. Guys like that, you just keep looking their way.”
Players from around the league had plenty of praise for the Detroit Lakes native.
“He’s a big reason why they had the season they had,” Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels said of Minnesota’s 13-3 campaign in 2017. “He’s not dropping the ball man. What else do you want to talk about?
“He’s always open, and he’s not dropping the ball,” Daniels added. “That’s a Top 100 receiver, don’t you think? I think so. I’m just calling it as I see it.”
“I call him ‘Mr. Fundamental.’ And he’s probably the best fundamental guy out there,” said Browns safety Damarious Randall. “He has perfected his craft and his routes are bar none some of the best routes you’re going to get by a wide receiver. He’s a guy that’s always open on film and is always open whenever we play them.”
Added Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans: “I think he’s one of the best receivers, period.”
Thielen was the sixth Vikings player to be on this year’s list, joining safety Harrison Smith (No. 46), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (No. 55), wide receiver Stefon Diggs (No. 65), defensive tackle Linval Joseph (No. 83) and quarterback Kirk Cousins (No. 94).
Thielen was the ninth wide receiver unveiled on the 2018 list. He ranked ahead of Doug Baldwin (Seahawks; No. 99), Michael Thomas (Saints; No. 81), Odell Beckham, Jr. (Giants; No. 77), Diggs, Jarvis Landry (Browns; No. 52), Devante Adams (Packers; No. 45), Keenan Allen (Chargers; No. 41) and Tyreek Hill (Chiefs; No. 40).
The full grouping revealed along with Thielen this week is as follows: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (No. 31), Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (No. 32), Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (No. 33), Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (No. 34), Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye (No. 35), Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (No. 37), Rams quarterback Jared Goff (No. 38), Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (No. 39) and Hill (No. 40).