Adam Thielen: The Cinderella Story of an Elite Athlete

By now, we've all heard the Cinderella story of Adam Thielen, who has set himself apart as one of the best receivers in the NFL.

He's in the middle of a historic season. This past Sunday, Thielen racked up his 8th straight 100+ yard reception game, tied for the best start in NFL history.

Thielen is an unlikely hero. After a solid high school football career, he received a last-minute offer to play at Division II Minnesota State University, Mankato. Thielen received a meager $500 scholarship.

After redshirting, he put together quality numbers, before becoming the main target his senior season. He didn't get any NFL looks, so he paid his own money to travel to a regional combine in Chicago. He performed well enough to get an invite to a super regional combine in Dallas.

From here, he went undrafted, tried out with the Vikings and was signed to the practice squad. After sitting and learning for a couple of years, Thielen truly found his game and the rest is history.

While Thielen's work ethic and desire to get better deserve all the credit in the world, if you look at his regional combine numbers, the signs of potential greatness were there the whole time.

For starters, Thielen was measured a hair under 6-foot-2 and weighed in at 192 pounds. He received the tryout with the Vikings after putting up impressive combine numbers -- which included a 4.49 40-yard dash time.

Running anywhere in the 4.4 range is definitely NFL speed, and was faster than the Combine times of some of today's best receivers, to include A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, Davante Adams, Robert Woods, and Michael Thomas.

He also ran a speedy 6.77 3-cone drill, and 2.54 split.

When you watch Thielen on the field, he most definitely passes the eye test. This is a testament to a receiver that has athletic ability but put it all together with elite route-running, allowing him to get in and out of his cuts. He also knows when to hesitate and sit down on his routes so that DBs can't catch his rhythm or jam him off his routes.

His 36-inch vertical is also top of the line when compared to his contemporaries.

So as you can see, while his story definitely has loads of Cinderella aspects to it, we're also looking at an elite athlete that flew under the radar and is deservedly getting his time in the spotlight due to hard work and perseverance.

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