The Vikings Rookie Who Was Scouted at Night in the Dark

The Vikings Rookie Who Was Scouted at Night in the Dark
Akayleb Evans

The Minnesota Vikings utilized the 2022 NFL Draft primarily to improve on defense, landing five defensive players with the first six picks.

Offensive lineman Ed Ingram was the lone offensive outlier, discovered by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah with the 59th overall pick in the 2nd Round.

And while Lewis Cine (S), Andrew Booth (CB), Ed Ingram (OL), and Brian Asamoah (LB) were the first four players off the board for Minnesota, Adofo-Mensah had a distinctive scouting technique for the next man, Akayleb Evans from Missouri.

Adofo-Mensah told the Pioneer Press last weekend he became fascinated with Evans during late-night scouting sessions — with the lights off.

“Evans was a guy I remember watching at night. I’d sometimes watch him in the dark, and you’re looking at his size and say, ‘He’s a big guy. Man, he moves well, plays off.’ You see him doing things in our scheme that translate really well.”

– kwesi adofo-mensah

Evans joins the Vikings with a Cameron Dantzler-like forecast from 2020. He isn’t renowned for tackling, but his length and size entice general managers and coaches. Evans and Dantzler are both 6’2,” and Evans has about 10 more pounds on his teammate (197 lbs).

Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Missouri defensive back Akayleb Evans. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings needed cornerbacks for future planning, and they drafted the aforementioned Booth and Evans for the gig. Evans is tall and lean, considered a disruptor in the secondary. He’s also deemed as “raw” for game-readiness, but with Patrick Peterson, Dantzler, and Booth on the roster, Evans doesn’t have to be ready for September. He can develop.

Plus, he’s an apt “test” for the new general management and scouting regime. Adofo-Mensah explained before the draft that no picks would be “his” picks but instead preached a collective consensus when announcing rookies at the podium. Because Adofo-Mensah watched Evans’ tape late at night, onlookers of the Vikings will be able to tell within the next few years if the first-year boss got this one right.

And if Evans does blossom into a starter or even a Pro Bowl-caliber talent, perhaps Adofo-Mensah can make nocturnal scouting a part of his yearly process.

Folks wanted something new when Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer were terminated in January. Selecting cornerbacks in drafts certainly isn’t new, but finding them in the shadows like this is an innovative twist.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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