The more I learn about what transpired since Moritz Boehringer- MoBo - arrived in Florida on February 29th, the more it was apparent that the Vikings had a lot of interest in him. The Vikings scout was there at his pro day and during his training there. Mike Zimmer's coaching mentor Bill Parcells was there. Teddy Bridgewater was there and met him. Then afterward they brought him up to Winter Park for a private workout, took him out to dinner, Norv Turner grilled him on his football IQ and route running.
Jenny Vrentas at si.com had this background story on him and how things unfolded since he got to America.
But at the end of the day, it was no surprise the Vikings drafted him, based on the time and work they put in with him.
Here is an interview he did with Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks back on April 12th too, that gives you an overview of him and his story so far:
But now that the Vikings have him, what are they gonna do with him?
Obviously the Vikings took a flier on his elite measurables below, in hopes he can develop quickly into an NFL-caliber player.
It's not stretching things too much to say that in addition to being the first direct from Europe player drafted, MoBo- at least in terms of experience level- might also be the first direct from high school player drafted too. OK, I think the German football league (GFL) he played in may equate more with Division III, but still he only played one year. He won the GFL Rookie of the Year award, and the next week he was in Florida.
Apparently during his training in Florida he learned some release techniques from Pierre Garcon, and had some other training from Anquan Boldin and some other NFL UK guys, but beyond that just what his training and background is gets pretty sketchy.
MoBo has only played "competitive American football" since 2013. He played two seasons with the Crailsheim Titans, with 94 catches for 2,866 yards and 41 TDs. I'm not sure how many games that included, but that's about 30 yards a reception, and a TD just about every other catch.
He moved up to Division I German football in 2015, playing for the Scwabisch Hall Unicorns. There he tallied 70 catches for 1,461 yards and 16 TDs - significantly lower average of only around 20 yards a catch and a TD only about every 5 receptions. Still, not too shabby- for what it's worth.
But what Boehringer was able to do against 5'9" 170lbs DBs running a 5.0" 40 in basic zone coverage running basic routes isn't worth all that much from an NFL point of view.
What matters now is MoBo's ability to rapidly absorb coaching and NFL terminology, play concepts, schemes, routes, techniques, coverages - everything- and take it from the classroom to the practice field. It's a massive undertaking, and the Vikings coaching staff beginning with George Stewart will need a good plan to develop him to an acceptable level to be able to at least make the roster if he's able to do what is asked of him.
Boehringer is a mechanical engineer, and apparently doesn't like to talk much, which leads me to believe he's more of an analytical type, and presumably at least fairly intelligent to make it through countless physics and math courses, so perhaps that background will serve him well as he learns the mechanics and workings of the NFL.
Given the huge coaching burden and learning curve, it's interesting the Vikings were willing to take a chance on such a raw receiver, particularly given the largely unsuccessful project with Cordarrelle Patterson, who was not quite as raw as Boehringer. And the unsuccessful stab with 'Babs' - a huge Polish league offensive lineman last year.
But when Norv Turner talked to Boehringer just after he was drafted, he told him it was a big deal for the Vikings to get him. I'm not sure that was told to other late round draft picks.
In any case, I suspect that Turner and other coaches were sufficiently impressed with his knowledge and ability to incorporate coaching into his game that they feel reasonably good about his chances to sufficiently improve during the off-season and training camp to make the roster. I also think MoBo has more natural ability- to go along with his measurables- than Babs had as an offensive lineman, and Cordarrelle Patterson has strictly as a route runner- he has plenty of that when it comes to YAC in the open field with the ball in his hands.
So, given all that, it is encouraging that the Vikings coaching staff saw enough differences in Boehringer compared to Babs or Patterson to think he may have a better chance of making the roster, and making it in the NFL. We'll see.
But there's another aspect of Boehringer that is intriguing as well.
What if the Vikings plug MoBo in at Tight End?
At 6' 4.5", 230lbs, MoBo has the height, but a little light when it comes to weight, of a prototypical receiving tight end. But then again, linebackers are lighter these days too, so maybe that isn't a big deal.
Apparently at least one of the teams interested in Boehringer (Atlanta) was considering him as a tight end. Obviously the mismatches with a typical linebacker or strong safety would be a nightmare for defenses in terms of speed, quickness, and height. Maybe it would be easier for MoBo to learn the tight end position too.
It's an interesting thought in today's modern NFL for an extremely athletic guy like Boehringer playing tight end. It makes some sense. Especially in Norv's Air Coryell offensive scheme.
In any case, as either a WR or a TE MoBo brings mismatches for any CB or LB or SS trying to cover him.
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The challenge for the Vikings is to design a program to get Boehringer up-to-speed as rapidly as possible within the confines of the Players CBA. There is a relatively small amount of time the Vikings coaches have with him (although as a rookie there is a little bit more), so there needs to be an intense private training program outside the Vikings coaches and facility to augment and complement what is covered during OTAs and minicamps.
Perhaps MoBo can get setup in an NFL-caliber training program to work on general techniques and knowledge - releases, route running, blocking, reading defenses, coverages, etc. while during OTAs and minicamps he can learn more Vikings-specific things like the playbook and how the Vikings like to do things.
Between the two training sessions- Vikings and private - if MoBo is able to work hard, absorb and incorporate all that is thrown at him over the next few months, perhaps he will be at a level where he can compete and earn some reps in training camp, and, with continued progress, make the roster.
Undoubtedly it makes sense to limit Boehringer in terms of plays and route concepts, but if he seems to be making good progress, it may also make sense to see what he can do on special teams. Finding ways to utilize Boehringer's attributes in simpler, more limited ways may be the best way for him to add sufficient value to the team to make the roster.
I don't see the practice squad as a viable option. Undoubtedly some other team would pick him up on waivers before he could be placed there.
But at the end of the day, it's going to be an intense learning curve for Boehringer this summer. But somehow, despite the daunting odds and recent failures with more speculative players, I'm optimistic that Boehringer has both the work ethic and the aptitude to make the roster.
And for now, that is the only goal.