It’s a Good Time to Look Back at Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Words

Judgment Day
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When the Minnesota Vikings hired former Wall Street trader Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in 2022, it was quite the change from the previous man in charge. Rick Spielman was a football player and a scout. He is what one could confidently label as a football guy. His successor Adofo-Mensah played basketball at Princeton and started a career in finance with a master’s degree from Stanford.

It’s a Good Time to Look Back at Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Words

Adofo-Mensah Words
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The 42-year-old began his football career in 2013 as San Francisco’s Manager of Football Research of Development. In 2017, he earned a promotion to Director of Football Research and Development under successful 49ers GM John Lynch. Cleveland Browns GM Andrew Berry hired him in 2020 as Vice President of Football Operations, his right-hand man.

When the Vikings made a cut and moved on from Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer, they needed a breath of fresh air. They wanted to create a different vibe in the building, so why not do the complete opposite? No football guy in charge of the roster and no more of an aging (although brilliant) defensive head coach. Some players had even complained about the leadership approach within the building.

Listed as Contestant
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Adofo-Mensah was hired and he brought Super Bowl-winning Rams coordinator Kevin O’Connell with him. A new leadership tandem was born. They have tried to overhaul the roster on the fly, without any full-on rebuilding actions. There are only a handful of players left from the previous regime and the Vikings reached the playoffs in 2022 and were still in the mix in Week 18 in 2023 so like it or not, they have done exactly what they wanted to: a competitive rebuild.

In the summer of 2022, a few months after he was hired, Adofo-Mensah was asked about the quarterback position and his comments to Jori Epstein from USA Today raised some eyebrows.

I’ll be frank, the one asset where you get nervous about not burning it down is quarterback. (Kirk Cousins is) a good quarterback. We don’t have Tom Brady. We don’t have Pat(rick) Mahomes. (The Super Bowl) is more likely to win if you have that quarterback. It’s very unlikely to have that quarterback.

Rumors Hit Boiling
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Nobody would ever compare Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes to Kirk Cousins, it is just obvious that he is a good quarterback but not a first-ballot Hall of Famer, a generational QB, but it surely is strange to hear it from Cousins’ GM. He still kept Cousins in place and, until his season-ending injury in 2023, he had played well.

The next step of his rebuild plan must be to find a franchise quarterback. Cousins has left the Vikings for Atlanta and signing Sam Darnold isn’t that franchise passer. Keeping Cousins would’ve bought the GM some extra time as he could’ve gotten away with waiting another year but pushing the inevitable down the road doesn’t help anyone. A new QB was needed, with or without Cousins.

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The plan is easy, trade up and secure that player in the draft. In a first step, Adofo-Mensah flipped a pair of second-round picks and some change for a first-rounder, pick 23 from Houston.

He can now package picks 11 and 23 (plus additional pieces if necessary) to acquire a higher draft choice, and subsequently a top QB prospect. It will be his shot to find a Brady or a Mahomes, regardless of how unlikely it is. The Chiefs and Patriots discovering a Hall of Famer was also unlikely and they did it anyway.

Drafting a passer is always risky. That player could end up busting like Zach Wilson and he might select Mitchell Trubisky over Mahomes. Even excellent evaluators can fail to find the right prospect. Kyle Shanahan, one of the elite offensive minds in the NFL, picked Trey Lance third overall in 2021.

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That danger doesn’t mean Adofo-Mensah shouldn’t try though. In August 2023, he was talking about taking risks. It was about pulling off trades that hadn’t worked out but it is still applicable and shows his mindset: “But ultimately, we’re gonna keep taking risks in this organization. Every pick you make is a decision that has [potential outcomes]. It’s a portfolio, in a sense, and you’ve gotta measure the portfolio in the end.”

Whether it will be Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, or Jayden Daniels, drafting a quarterback is the ultimate risk. To quote Brandon Beane, Bills general manager/the guy who drafted Josh Allen:

“We got criticized for how much we gave up for Josh, and I’m like, well if he doesn’t work out I’m not gonna be here anyway…and if he does work out, nobody’s gonna give a shit.”

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It might be costly but Adofo-Mensah will do it his way. If he doesn’t draft a quarterback and rides borderline backups like Darnold, he will be fired even quicker as if he takes a shot in the draft and misses.

The draft will be on April 25 and the Vikings will most likely select a quarterback. Adofo-Mensah is known for taking risks and is aware of how important a good QB is to win a Super Bowl. Having a GM who is not willing to settle at the crucial position is a nice change.

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