Vikings

Breaking Down the German Wide Receiver, Moritz Boehringer

Ha ha.

No seriously, there’s not a lot to do in terms of breaking down a player whose primary competition can’t hold a candle to Division III or even the NAIA. The best we can do is craft nuggets from the information that we have. The first and most obviously important part of his scouting report is his mockdraftable web.

Mockdraftable - Moritz Boehringer

 

Wowowowowow.

His athletic measurable combine score—a composite workout score I’ve put together that weights athletic workouts by historical relationships to NFL success—is the single-best score in my wide receiver database, a perfect 10.0.

You have to be careful, of course. Joe Webb was a 9.9 (ranked fourth) and he arguably had more relevant football experience than Boehringer, as a part-time receiver and full-time quarterback at Alabama-Birmingham.

But athleticism matters and the top scores aside from Joe Webb were Vincent Jackson, Calvin Johnson, Greg Little, Pierre Garcon, Greg Childs, Josh Boyce, Jonathan Baldwin, Andre Caldwell, Arrelious Benn and Torrey Smith.

That’s a pretty good hit-rate. The ten middle-most values (Ryan Grice-Mullen, Carlton Mitchell, Marko Mitchell, Jermaine Kearse, Marqise Lee, Jarvis Landry, DeVier Posey, Jason Hill, Airese Currie and Brandon Jones) produced one, arguably two hits—and those hits aren’t as good.

The highest echelon of athletes includes Julio Jones, Roddy White and AJ Green and the best receiving averages (over 700 yards) for receivers picked in the first three rounds over the past ten years include three players in the 90th percentile and only one below the 30th percentile.

On average, those players were in the 71st percentile and their scores were 9.97, 9.42, 9.27, 8.52, 8.15, 8.11, 6.27, 4.73, 4.47 and 2.29. Athletic players tend do better than non-athletic players.

A lot of that doesn’t mean much if athleticism doesn’t show up on the field but even against the limited competition of the GFL, his high-level athleticism is obvious. We only have Youtube highlights to go off of, but that’s all general manager Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer worked off of. Despite that, they’re confident in the pick.

“He was on our board pretty high,” Spielman said of the German phenom. “We drafted him because of what he is as a football player and what we project him to potentially be.”

In the highlight video above, you can see him burning past the competition on screens and go routes, and though that provides you with some ancillary data on his straight-line speed, the thing that popped out most to be was his fluidity and how quickly he flipped his hips.

Moritz Hip Flip

While Matt Waldman correctly finds a lot of room for criticism here in terms of pure route-running, I think what it show cases in terms of pure movement skill is fascinating. We use the same terms to talk about how Mackensie Alexander moves on the field, but it really is a different kind of athleticism and it’s difficult to describe how.

Alexander embodies an economy of movement and every step he takes is designed to give him multiple options without overcommitting to any particular step. Boehringer just… moves. Sure, he’s efficient, but because he’s an offensive player, he can commit to what he wants to do without having to backstop against other ideas. He can go where he wants and he does it with intention.

By the way, in the play GIF’d above, Boehringer somehow scored a touchdown. You’ll see it relatively early in the highlight video at the top.

You can see those lateral movement skills in the longer highlight video and his agility remains impressive and unreal. Does his straight-line speed translate?

Moritz speeeed

Probably.

This seems to fit his own profile of himself. With gathered media, Moritz said he tried to model his game off of A.J. Green and “maybe” Julio Jones. That fits his description of himself. When asked, he said he was, a “big, physical, fast guy with good hands.”

If he has good hands that would be a huge help.
Moritz One-handed catch

Moritz Boehringer Contested Catch (small)

That’s pretty sweet, but a couple of highlight reel catches—which is all that they have on the highlight reels, sort of by definition—don’t tell us that he has good hands. We don’t know if there are drops missing from the “film” as it were or lost contested catches. Maybe he caused interceptions with poor positioning or had deflections.

What we do have are two positive pieces of information. The first is that he didn’t drop a single pass in his workout, which is good (but weak) data. The second is in how he catches the ball. We know that it’s important to catch away from the body, work naturally with the ball and attack the ball as soon as possible.

Moritz Framing Ball

He does that, plus he’s won at least two contested catches this season, which is nice. Beyond that, and possibly more importantly, he frames the ball well. He turns his shoulders square to the pass, uses his hands as windows to the ball and maintains natural extension before tucking the ball. He catches with his fingertips and stays focused throughout the catch process.

He has very good ball-tracking skills, it seems, and he can very quickly locate the ball without much reaction time. He snaps his head around quickly in route and seems to understand the timing concepts of routes well.

Boehringer naturally shields the ball on slants and posts, and that’s a big positive. While many receivers are praised for doing it, I don’t think a lot of receivers do it as often as people think they do.

He seems to have the stuff you want a receiver to naturally have. He’s a mediocre route-runner on the occasions we get to see his route-running, and it would be nice if we had more complete film if only because it would allow us to see how he runs routes when he’s not targeted. That would provide us with a wealth of information, particularly because he may not have gotten open on those targets.

Moritz Stop and Go

You can see examples in all the GIF above, but the stop-and-go is a good example of how he could get away with poor fundamentals with incredible athletic traits. This isn’t a poor example of route running, and his ability to stop on a dime is showcased here, but he signals his pull-up with his shoulders and leans into the direction of the route when he accelerates through the stem. He needs to stop and run routes with much more efficiency and make all routes look the same.

Consistently he doesn’t show an ability to use deception, though at times you’ll see him throw in a technique here or there that speaks to it; like the head nod in a prior GIF for a touchdown. For now, he’ll deploy a technique every so often but it’s not integrated into his natural route-running—though I think his jab step is pretty good.

Below is a GIF where tells a story pretty well and the Matt Waldman video below will explain more of this, but there are other things to point out:

Moritz Tells a Story

If you think of it as a corner-post from the seam, it’s not that bad; his dipping shoulder is a good response to potential contact, but his post route was significantly off-target (while I think the QB should have thrown it further upfield, I think there’s a lot here for Boehringer to correct) and had there been different coverage it could have been a pick or incompletion.

Aside from angling in more, he takes a lot of time to get going into the route, and I think that has a lot to do with his fundamentals as a route-runner.

Quite a few people have pointed out that he doesn’t have experience against press, but when he’s had a chance, he’s shown some talent at getting off of press with a few upper body moves.

There are times to criticize stride length; stepping too short can cause issues with speed and timing, and are often proxy signs of hesitancy in route-running. Too long, and it takes too much time to gather when breaking a route at the stem. For Boehringer, I don’t think either are a problem.

He needs to run with his shoulder pads over his knees, and he’s extremely inconsistent about pad level throughout the route. He takes too long to gather on hitches, and though he has a feel for where open coverage is going to be (again, grain of salt—based on a reel that only shows targets where he caught the ball), he’s imprecise about route depths and where he should be (in an NFL system, anyway).

There isn’t much in terms of sinking his hips at the break, and he also ran very few difficult routes, like the dig or out—mostly posts, slants and goes with some hitch routes peppered in.

The German kid seems to handle contact well, but only time will tell in that regard; linebackers range from 190 to 230 pounds in the GFL, and he himself is 224 pounds. Taking hits from those players will be different than getting thrashed by 255-pound Anthony Barr.

Check out Matt Waldman’s video here:

For the most part, the tools are there. The intuition you want at wide receiver seems to be there and he’s already got a bunch of stuff down that’s difficult to teach. A lot of the things he’ll need to learn to play in the NFL will also be difficult to teach, but the fact that he has some of this down is encouraging.

Spielman and Zimmer were also impressed with how quickly he picked up on football concepts at his pro day and the Top 30 visit, too. Spielman said, “We just wanted to see where his football knowledge was, how he was able to communicate, and we were very impressed.”

They also knew that other teams were interested, and that they had to use a draft pick.

One more thing: he returned two kicks for touchdowns, but there was no primary kick returner for his team. He was second on the team in kick returns with 14 (Packers tryout Patrick Donahue had one more with 15) and another player had eight kick returns. Only three players in the GFL returned at least 20 kicks and nobody returned at least 20 punts, so it’s difficult to compare averages. Still, his average (29.6) was better than league average or the averages of any players with 20 returned kicks or more, but he was behind Donahue.

If he can return kicks he has the barest shot of making the roster in place of Cordarrelle Patterson, but I expect him to be competing for a practice squad spot and having long odds of making it.

Sure, you can find athletes later in the draft or in undrafted free agency, but you cannot find that level of athlete. He’s more athletic than projects Cordarrelle Patterson or Joe Webb. His athleticism is rare in the sense of the word that has been lost in football writing—truly difficult to find. It’s unique and the Vikings really like grabbing unique players.

It’s still a very exciting pick.

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