PFF Names Vikings Best Offseason Move

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Jun 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in January after the firing of long-time general manager Rick Spielman. His first move was to hire the replacement of head coach Mike Zimmer when he brought in Kevin O’Connell. The former Rams offensive coordinator, and Sean McVay’s disciple, instantly initiated a much-needed change of culture.

Adofo-Mensah has made a lot of moves since then. Some big ones like signing former Packers defender Za’Darius Smith. He also made some minor-but-still-important moves like signing Chandon Sullivan to replace the struggling Mackensie Alexander in the nickel defense.

Certainly, his biggest task so far was the draft. It was his first time in charge of during the event for the new GM. PFF’s Brad Spielberger named one of his picks the best offseason move of the Minnesota Vikings.

Lewis Cine

Dec 4, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Lewis Cine. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

Lewis Cine became the first selection in his young career. The two will forever be connected. Spielberger admits that the position Adofo-Mensah was put in wasn’t easy to solve:

“The Vikings had a tough offseason to gauge, in many ways pulling in two different directions as they once again look to make a deep playoff run with quarterback Kirk Cousins despite shaking up a longtime front office and coaching staff.”

Brad Spielberger, PFF

After missing the playoffs in back-to-back years and the team appearing to be stuck as an average team, a rebuild was a possibility. However, Adofo-Mensah instantly rejected the thought of completely tearing down the team. He called it a ‘competitive rebuild,’ which means he wants the team to be good every year, despite rebuilding. That’s why signing Kirk Cousins to an extension was the right thing to do despite a lot of controversies. The team should be competitive in 2022 with their dependable quarterback at the helm — not only the extension was part of a controversy, but also the draft.

“Their 2022 NFL Draft process was also a bit of a see-saw, beginning with their controversial decision to trade way down to the No. 32 pick from the No. 12 spot, ignoring old school draft value charts in favor of mathematically driven charts that still believe they gained value by moving down. While the entire point of these newer charts is about the process and not the results, the result appeared to be a good one for Minnesota when they landed Georgia safety Lewis Cine with the No. 32 overall pick.”

Brad Spielberger, PFF

Trade Controversy

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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Fans didn’t like the trade for two reasons. The first one is that the Vikings traded with the Lions, a division rival. They helped a team they face twice a year to get a dangerous weapon in Jameson Williams. The second problem is that the Vikings didn’t get enough in return for trading down 20 spots. Later in the draft, the Vikings traded with the Packers — once again in their division, but the Vikings clearly won the transaction.

The most used charts, the Rich Hill chart, and the Jimmy Johnson model agree with that. However, modern charts that take the value of specific picks into account disagree. The models that view picks as trade assets in historical trades work against analytics-driven models that view picks as the players they can potentially bring. Both things can be true. The Vikings won the trade and also should’ve gotten more.

However, the player Adofo-Mensah selected is a good one.

“Thanks to some top-notch detective work from Jon Machota at The Athletic, we know the Cowboys had Cine as their No. 13-ranked player on their draft board. We also heard from Cine himself on the Richard Sherman podcast that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers promised to take him with the No. 27 overall pick before ultimately trading down to pick No. 33. All told, the Vikings landed a player we know was highly regarded in several buildings while adding more draft capital in the process, eventually enabling them to also select Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. in the second round.”

Brad Spielberger, PFF

To get Cine at spot 32 appears to be a great value. The former Georgia Bulldog still has to pan out, but early indications suggest he’s an excellent player. He receives praise for his speed, aggressiveness, and leadership qualities. Unless 2021 rookie Camryn Bynum can surprisingly beat out the first-rounder, Cine will start opposite the potential Hall of Famer, Harrison Smith.

Another Great Move

Spielberger also mentioned another good move from Adofo-Mensah.

“Signing edge defender Za’Darius Smith to a team-friendly three-year deal, at least from a structure perspective given how the cash is paid out, was deserving of a mention here as well.”

Brad Spielberger, PFF

Keeping the dynamic pass rusher in the division is probably not what the Packers envisioned when they cut Za’Darius Smith. However, the Vikings had him in for a meeting and signed the free agent to a three-year contract shortly after. Together with Danielle Hunter, Smith will form a dangerous tandem. They both dealt with injuries in recent years, but if they are healthy, it will be a nightmare to plan against the two.

Overall, Adofo-Mensah started his ‘competitive rebuild,’ as he started to get some cap flexibility while the team stayed in good shape. The rookies have to work out, and they surely have the potential to do that.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt