Moritz Boehringer first draft pick who never played in North America

ByBen Goessling ESPN logo
Saturday, April 30, 2016

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. --Moritz Boehringer got his first exposure to football via YouTube clips of Adrian Peterson. Now the German wide receiver will go from being Peterson's fan to being his teammate.

The Minnesota Vikings selected Boehringer with the 186th overall pick of the NFL draft on Saturday, which makes the 22-year-old the first player to reach the NFL straight from Europe. The 6-foot-4 receiver, who started playing football in 2013, comes to the Vikings from the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League.

He attracted interest from several teams after an impressive pro day, but the Vikings showed as much interest as any team in Boehringer, who held out hope that he would end up with his favorite team as a draft pick or rookie free agent.

"I was hoping," Boehringer said. "But you never know what happens on draft day.

Boehringer had 70 catches for 1,461 yards and 16 touchdowns in 21 games with the Unicorns in 2015 and was named the GFL's Rookie of the Year. He played two seasons for the Crailsheim Titans before that and caught a combined 94 passes for 2,866 yards in 19 games with the team. Working out at Florida Atlantic's pro day, the former soccer player posted a 4.43-second 40-yard dash -- on grass, not turf -- and put up 17 repetitions on the bench press. He had a 39-inch vertical leap. Had he been at the NFL combine this year, he would have placed near the top of the draft class in all those tests.

When he first decided to give the game of football a try, Boehringer said he did some research on the Internet to find places where he could play in Germany. After playing soccer for seven years, he got his first taste of American football while playing wide receiver and defensive back.

"I just started learning the game by playing," he said. "The first year was really difficult because I had not really an idea what I was doing. The last few weeks, when I've been training here in the United States, I had a coach, and he taught me a lot."

Boehringer impressed scouts enough to go from a possible undrafted free agent to a late-round draft pick. Now, he'll begin his NFL career with the player whose highlights exposed him to the game in the first place.

"I've heard he has a very strong handshake," Boehringer said. "I will prepare for that."

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