LOS ANGELES: The Minnesota Vikings made German wide receiver Moritz Boehringer the first European drafted directly to the NFL on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), taking him in the sixth round.
Boehringer got interested in the gridiron game five years ago at the age of 17 — when he saw a video of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson’s team took him with the 180th selection overall in the 2016 draft that began on Thursday.
“I can’t describe how I feel right now, just happy to be drafted,” said Boehringer, who played four years in a German league but unlike the other Europeans who have made it to the NFL has never played in North America.
Germany’s Bjoern Werner, for example, was drafted in the first round in 2013 by the Indianapolis Colts after playing collegiate football at Florida State University.
“I follow the Vikings, just because (Peterson) brought me to football,” Boehringer told an NFL Network television interviewer minutes before he got the call from the team — who were urged on by NFL Network commentator Mike Mayock.
“Mike Zimmer, Rick Spielman. We have Mo-Bo sitting right here with us. You like big football players,” Mayock said.
Boehringer, 22, said when he went to his first organized football practice, the team had five players.
His hometown never produced enough interest to field a full team and Boehringer ended up playing for the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League for a year.
He caught 70 passes for 1,461 yards and 16 touchdowns. He arrived Stateside on February 29, and impressed at the Florida Atlantic pro day, one of the events that gives team scouts a chance to check out NFL hopefuls.
While Boehringer is a legitimate prospect he has work to do to cement a place with the Vikings. Minnesota had already drafted a wide receiver this year, taking Laquon Treadwell with their top pick.