Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah comes from an analytics background in which data is a key driver of decision-making.
A way to measure how Adofo-Mensah is doing at his job, interestingly, can lead us to a broader discussion of the sorts of problems he encounters every day.
The example at hand: NFL draft grades.
These snap judgments are extremely subjective, particularly as one-offs. What one person, even someone with knowledge, thinks of another team's draft class can be woefully inadequate. It's a sample size problem to rely on one grade.
But gather up enough grades, as Rene Bugner has done, and you at least get a more meaningful consensus of what people think. In this case, the combined total of 29 different grades from 29 different graders put the Vikings' 2023 draft at No. 23 out of 32 teams.
The Vikings' cumulative grade point average was 2.66, reflective of a grade slate that had a few A's but a lot more B's and C's along with a couple of D's.
Bugner did this a year ago as well, with 18 graders. The Vikings finished 20th, and a lot of the players from that class figure to be key pieces on Brian Flores' defense this year — something I talked about with Andrew Krammer on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast.
But just because there is a seeming sufficient amount of data to reach at least a loose consensus about each team's draft class doesn't mean the quality of the data is good.
Some graders have more inside knowledge than others, either about the league overall or about specific teams. Some have put more time and effort into the grades than others. None are using the exact same methodology.
That to me is the biggest conundrum in a sports world increasingly attracted to the small edges that analytics can bring: how do you know which numbers have value and which ones are just dressed-up junk?
The larger problem with immediate draft grades, of course, is that even with more sophisticated models telling us where players are projected to go and which positions hold more value, the output and ability of the individual players jumping to the next level of competition won't be known for at least a couple years.
But putting aside questions of sample size vs. data quality, I think we could at least say this: If you were being graded by 29 people on a key part of your job, you would rather be in the top third than the bottom third of the scores.
Here are four other things to know today:
*Krammer and I also discussed other elements of the Vikings' OTAs for an Access Vikings episode. The dueling podcasts weren't quite of Flintstones vs. Jetsons crossover proportions, but the synergy was undeniable nonetheless.
*And speaking of grading the Vikings, ESPN's Bill Barnwell has their offseason success rate at No. 20 overall among NFL teams. I try not to click on all those rankings stories, but Barnwell is good at them.
*The Florida Panthers swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL's Eastern Conference finals. My best friend of nearly 35 years is an avid Vikings and Hurricanes fan, so you can imagine he knows how this feels already.
*If you haven't read Jeff Day's excellent long look at the club volleyball scene, please do so now. And if you like what you read, make sure to listen to Friday's Daily Delivery podcast on which Day will be the featured guest.