The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

April 25, 2013

COURRIER: Thielen excited about pro possibilities

Adam Thielen enjoys watching the NFL Draft on TV, but this year, it’s a little different.

The former Minnesota State receiver doesn’t expect to get drafted this weekend, but the selection process, especially in the later rounds, has produced unexpected results.

“I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I don’t know if any teams are interested, or maybe teams that I thought were interested aren’t. I’m just really excited to see what the future holds.”

Thielen is one of the most prolific receivers in Minnesota State history, ranking second with 198 receptions and third with 2,802 yards and 20 touchdowns. He’s also one of the best punters returns to play here.

Last season, despite being the clear go-to receiver who demanded the defense’s attention, he made 74 receptions for 1,176 yards and eight touchdowns, helping the Mavericks to a 13-1 record and a trip to the national semifinals.

He was invited to a regional workout at Chicago in March, then earned a trip to a national combine in April at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. Thielen, at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, opened some eyes with his 40-yard dash, timed between 4.45 and 4.49 seconds. He also ran routes with the quarterbacks, did the broad and vertical jumps and was put through agility drills.

“At the time, I was pretty focused,” Thielen said. “But as I look back, it was a really cool experience to run routes at Cowboys Stadium.”

Thielen hasn’t heard from any NFL teams since then, so he figures it’s a longshot that he gets selected in any of the seven rounds, which ends Saturday. If he doesn’t get taken, he’s hoping to sign as a free agent when the draft is complete.

“You just have to put your best foot forward every time you work out,” he said. “You only get so many opportunities, and you never know who’s watching.”

The NFL draft is a fickle event. Former MSU safety John Kelling thought he’d be drafted back in 1991, but in combine medical exams, NFL teams found a problem in his neck and he never got a chance. In 2003, Gustavus Adolphus’ Ryan Hoag was the last player selected.

Minnesota State tackle Adrian Battles wasn’t drafted in 2010, but he signed as a free agent with the Vikings. Although he was released, he ended up with Green Bay and was on the sideline as the Packers won the Super Bowl.

The bottom line: You never know.

Thielen hung out with Battles at the Dallas combine, and he’s spoken several times with former teammate LaMark Brown, who was with Atlanta last season but has signed with the Vikings. Thielen’s excited about his future, which will become a little more clear this weekend.

“I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen,” he said. 

Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, e-mail at, check out his local sports blog at or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.

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