Why Is Everyone Ignoring Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Reputation?

Draft Plan Just Got
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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings for less than 17 months and he is slowly but purposefully building a team that fits his philosophy of roster building. It will take years until he finally has a ‘Kwesi-roster’ and is no longer a mix of Spielman leftovers and his guys. For some reason, he is criticized for doing the expected.

Why Is Everyone Ignoring Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Reputation?

Why Is Everyone Ignoring Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's Reputation?
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The general manager came to the Vikings in January 2022 after the organization parted ways with his predecessor Rick Spielman. His way of thinking has been described with one word from day one: analytics.

He is the nerdy numbers guy. The Princeton and Stanford graduate without a football background. A master’s degree in economics and his work as a commodity trader on Wall Street was his experience before he started his NFL career. He had a stint in San Francisco for six years where he worked as the manager and later director of football research and development followed by two years as vice president of football operations in Cleveland. The job as the GM in Minnesota is the first time he is in charge of a franchise.

Nobody really knew much about the man when he joined the Vikings, only that he is not a normal GM, he is a numbers guy. Yet, it is somehow ignored when he acts like it.

There Is a Dalvin Cook Plot Twist
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The foreseen move to let go of Dalvin Cook after six seasons with the organization drew some massive criticism from Vikings fans and media pundits. Why? It was the logical decision for a numbers guy.

Those folks disregard the running back position. The difference between a good one and just an average one is too little to warrant a high salary. Cook’s release will save the Vikes $9 million in cap space. The difference between Cook and his longtime backup Alexander Mattison is mainly a splashy play every other week and some minor things. That is not worth that kind of money in the minds of modern GMs.

They regard running backs as replaceable unless someone is generationally great. Just last year, Isiah Pacheco and Tyler Allgeier, two late-round draft picks, played wonderful football in their debut season. Pacheco was the top guy in the backfield for the Super Bowl champion Chiefs and Allgeier rushed for more than 1,000 yards. The Patriots replaced Damien Harris with Rhamondre Stevenson and the Lions benched D’Andre Swift for Jamaal Williams, just to name a couple of quick replacements of RBs in the NFL.

The Vikings replaced Adrian Peterson in 2017 by drafting Dalvin Cook and when he was hurt, Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray played well enough to keep the ship cruising.

Running backs are often injured because of the hits they take, they have short careers with steep declines once they hit a wall, and they are easy to replace. For those reasons, it should’ve been expected all the way that Cook won’t be on the team for much longer.

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Adofo-Mensah re-signed Mattison. While the 24-year-old isn’t cheap for a backup, he costs less than a third of Cook’s salary but can do most things Cook can. Adofo-Mensah also tried to find this year’s Pacheco or Allgeier when he selected DeWayne McBride in the seventh round. The Vikings also employ last year’s pick Ty Chandler who has shown exciting flashes and Kene Nwangwu.

In the analytical world, Cook was not very good in 2022. His rushing yards over expected per attempt declined over the years:

  • 2022: -0.16
  • 2021: 0.34
  • 2020: 0.81

 The -0.16 in 2022 ranked him only 41st of 48 eligible runners.

He still racked up big total numbers but that was to some extent because of the high volume. Even fans of Cook – most Vikings fans became fans of him over the years – wouldn’t call him an elite top two or three running back as he is entering his age-28 season. That’s why it was the obvious move for Adofo-Mensah and his numbers to part ways with the veteran and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. 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