The Vikings since 2018 have had a wide receiver who is the son of a Super Bowl-winning receiver. Soon, they will have another.
Blake Proehl of East Carolina, the son of longtime NFL receiver Ricky Proehl, has reached a deal to sign with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent. He joins on the roster Chad Beebe, the son of former pro receiver Don Beebe.
“I think that’s pretty special right there,’’ Blake said Sunday. “I know that Beebe was a big receiver for them last year, and I saw him make some plays. … I’m really excited to join the Vikings.’’
Don Beebe played in three Super Bowls in the 1990s for Buffalo, and he was on the losing side each time. But he finally won a ring with Green Bay in January 1997.
Ricky Proehl played in the NFL from 1990-2006. He appeared in three Super Bowls, winning one in January 2000 with St. Louis and being on the losing side with the Rams in February 2002 and with Carolina in February 2004. He caught a touchdown pass in each of the two losses.
Ricky also got a ring with Indianapolis in February 2007, although he was inactive in Super Bowl XLI against Chicago. That turned out to be his last game on an NFL roster.
“It’s ironic,’’ Ricky said of Blake joining Chad Beebe on the roster. “I know Don and I have a great deal of respect for him. I don’t know if Chad remembers, but I had a chance to work with him at a football camp about 10 years ago in San Diego.’’
There will be time later this year for those in the Beebe and Proehl families to reminisce. For now, Blake is excited about preparing to officially sign his contract when he arrives May 12 in the Twin Cities and then takes part in a rookie minicamp later that week.
Ricky said his son chose Minnesota over Detroit, Green Bay, Washington and the New York Jets. Of his rookie salary of $660,000, Blake said the Vikings have guaranteed $100,000 of it and that he also got a $15,000 signing bonus.
“I think that shows their commitment, and I was really excited about that,’’ Blake said. “But honestly for me, it wasn’t about the money. I’m just ready to go up to Minnesota and go to work.”
Blake said he has followed the Vikings closer than any NFL team in recent years. That’s because of his admiration for wide receiver Adam Thielen.
“People ask me who I model my game after, and I say Adam Thielen,’’ Blake said. “I love how he’s a student of the game, and I love his route running.’’
Like Blake, Thielen went undrafted. The 6-foot-1, 186-pound Blake didn’t hear his name in the draft, which concluded Saturday, after a season in which he caught 47 passes for 577 yards in nine games.
“It was a little heartbreaking,’’ he said. “For me, obviously my dream was to get drafted. But I’m really excited about going to Minnesota because I love the organization in general.”
Blake, 22, will become the second Proehl son on an NFL roster. Austin, a receiver, was drafted in the seventh round by Buffalo in 2018 out of North Carolina and has spent time with four teams without yet getting into a regular-season game. Austin, 25, signed last January with San Francisco, and the 49ers will play host to the Vikings in 2021.
“That would be a dream come true if both are active (for that game),’’ Ricky said.
Ricky was a third-round pick out of Wake Forest in 1990 and caught 669 passes for 8,878 yards in 17 NFL seasons with the Cardinals, Seahawks, Bears, Rams, Panthers and Colts. He was a Carolina assistant from 2011-16, a period that included both his sons serving as Panthers ball boys.
“He’s been the best father I could have asked for,’’ Blake said. “I learned everything I know about the game from him.’’
Blake attended two of his dad’s Super Bowls, being 3 when the Rams lost to New England and 8 when the Colts beat Chicago. He spent his childhood watching plenty of footage of his father in action.
Ricky said his son was a “late bloomer,” and he wasn’t recruited by Wake Forest coming out of Providence High School in Charlotte, N.C. At East Carolina, he redshirted as a freshman in 2017 due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament before catching 140 passes for 1,576 yards over the next three seasons and giving up his final year of eligibility.
“He’s a good route runner,’’ said Ricky, who now owns Proehlific Park, a sports complex and fitness center in Greensboro, N.C. “He’s got great hands. I think he’s going to shock a lot of people when they see his athleticism. He’s a low 4.4, high 4.3 (seconds) guy (in the 40-yard dash). He’s got great quickness and great foot speed for a guy his size.
“I’m pretty objective. I’m not saying he should have been a third-round pick, but I do think he was a draftable prospect. But instead of proving everybody wrong, I think he’s going to go out to prove that Minnesota made the right decision.”
In other words, he has a chance to duplicate what Chad Beebe did three years ago coming out of Northern Illinois: Make the Vikings’ roster after being undrafted.