3 Takeaways from Vikings Draft Mini-Documentary

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It was the third draft for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the man in charge of the Minnesota Vikings. The general manager has had mixed results in his first two drafts, coming away with some major disappointments in the first year, followed by a more promising group in 2023, despite trading the second-rounder to Detroit for tight end T.J. Hockenson.

3 Takeaways from Vikings Draft Mini-Documentary

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Entering year three, he knew a quarterback was on top of Skol Nation’s wishlist after the departure of veteran Kirk Cousins in free agency. Trading up prior to the draft for a second pick in the top round gave him the ammo to either select another excellent player or trade up for a QB. The GM ultimately did both.

Almost a month after the draft, the team released a documentary containing 18 minutes of intel from meetings at the scouting combine and the war room during the draft. While the team obviously only released favorable sequences, there were some fascinating tidbits.

1. The Vikings Wanted McCarthy; McCarthy Wanted the Vikings

For the entire pre-draft process, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy was viewed as the potential answer to Minnesota’s QB question. During March’s scouting combine, McCarthy said about his meeting with the Vikes: “Coach O’Connell led the whole thing. Everything they talked about wanting out of a QB aligns with what I want. Just being able to get on the board with them, go through their plays, it was special.”

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Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) warms up before the Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Now, the Vikings released some of the footage. When the meeting was about to end, McCarthy shook Kevin O’Connell’s hand and said, “I just want to say, I’d run through a brick wall for you, anyone in purple and gold. I promise you that.”

In the documentary, McCarthy made sure to announce that he only said that to two coaches in his life, and he won championships with both of them. The others were likely ex-Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his high school coach Tim Racki.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah claimed they would be sweating for two more picks, emphasizing that McCarthy was their top choice (likely after third overall pick Drake Maye).

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Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) signs autographs during the national championship celebration at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

He pulled the trigger to trade up one spot for a pair of late-rounders to ensure McCarthy’s arrival in Minnesota. That cost was clearly inferior to the risk of losing out. The GM also ran a quick victory lap, talking to QB coach Josh McCown: “I was supposed to trade the whole farm for him up to four, we got him at ten.”

The passer later said: “There was a very short list of teams that I was really excited for when that call was going to come in, and Minnesota was definitely at the top.”

2. Kevin O’Connell Is a Fan of Dallas Turner

Because the Vikings didn’t give up pick 23 in a trade for the future quarterback, they had another chance to add some talent. The group in the war room realized that a defender still hadn’t been drafted, so getting one of the top guys was possible.

Drops One Hint
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After a comment in the room that “23 is looking good,” Adofo-Mensah clarified that he wanted to trade up to secure a premier talent. O’Connell’s focus shifted to Dallas Turner, Alabama’s pass-rusher. He mentioned his name, but later, when his GM picked up the phone to talk about a trade with the Jaguars, O’Connell was still careful, “I don’t want to jinx it until I see it actually happen,” followed by “I think Turner would be the guy we would still hang in for; huge value.”

Adofo-Mensah then announced that he had secured the trade with Jacksonville, and the subsequent O’Connell reaction immediately turned into a meme. The price was significant, but a player of that caliber was too good to pass up.

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Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy makes a pass against Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner during the first half of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.

Getting McCarthy and Turner wasn’t viewed as a possibility because the defender was expected to be selected in the top ten of the draft. At the same time, everyone thought the Vikings had to trade both first-rounders to choose McCarthy. If they reach their potential, finding two potential cornerstones is a big win for the regime.

3. Vikings Got Their Guys on Day 3

The third day of the draft began with the selection of cornerback Khyree Jackson. O’Connell was fired up about that, the clip revealed.

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Adofo-Mensah’s draft party began in round six. He mentioned Walter Rouse’s name multiple times and was nervous about losing the offensive tackle. He trusted his projections, as he said, although he “would’ve picked him 20 picks sooner.”

After drafting him, he expressed his excitement about one possible scenario when talking to offensive line coach Chris Kuper: “It’s so funny, as fired up as you get for Dallas Turner, but if we get Rouse, Jurgens, and a kicker, I’m going like ‘best draft ever.'”

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The two targets were clear. He then turned to O’Connell to discuss the tactic. According to his model, “the kicker should be gone by now,” so he wanted to pick him before turning to interior offensive lineman Michael Jurgens. O’Connell agreed, and the Vikings indeed ended up with the targets Rouse, Jurgens, and kicker Will Reichard, getting all three of their desired players.

None of that guarantees anything, but it is good news that the guys in charge drafted players they really wanted rather than selecting players they weren’t sold on because they hadn’t had any promising players left on their board.

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