Q: What's your read on how the new regime will approach the draft? Pure best player available? Position-weighted best player available? Fill needs? — @thomasbeck94
AK: My read is first-time General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will have a combination of a position-weighed approach while looking to fill needs early. Adofo-Mensah has talked about addressing "certain needs" in "more high-probability places in the draft." Those certain needs, logically, could be positions that he values highly.
When asked about positional value, Adofo-Mensah referenced saviors. "I think about this way: A good player, if they make a good play, how many of their teammates can they save at once? How many of their organization can they save? Can they save me? Can they save the coordinator? Can they save everybody? I try and look at it from a very simplistic sense in that way, and obviously that hints at certain quarterbacks and pass rusher and things like that."
Reading between the lines — and seeing the Vikings' lone free-agency splash be a pass rusher in Za'Darius Smith — it's players that impact the passing game. So that also includes receiver, cornerback, offensive tackle, etc. Look for more hints in how the Browns, and Adofo-Mensah's mentor Andrew Berry, approached the draft. In their two years together in Cleveland, the Browns' top two picks in each draft included two defensive backs in Greg Newsome and Grant Delpit, a versatile coverage linebacker in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and tackle Jedrick Wills Jr.
Q: Safety Kyle Hamilton and cornerback Derek Stingley are on the board at 12, but Kansas City is calling and offering picks 29 and 30 to trade up. What do you do? — @jtmnskol
AK: Both Hamilton and Stingley could fill immediate needs for the Vikings. I'm not entirely sure why the Chiefs would make this leap, but it'd be difficult to pass up if Kansas City came calling with that offer. Getting back-to-back picks at the end of the first round would offer chances to snag a couple top-end prospects from what's considered to be deep pools at positions of need: corner, receiver and edge rusher. How much do they like Stingley? Maybe too much to pass him up at No. 12. NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah called Stingley a "home run" pick for the Vikings, but "I'm to the point now in the process where I don't think he gets out of the top 10."
In my opinion, it's more likely they try to trade back if the top two corners are taken in Stingley and Cincinnati's Ahmad Gardner. More realistic trade-back scenarios might present themselves through the Saints (picks No. 16, 19) or the Steelers (pick No. 20) as quarterback-needy teams might want to jump ahead of the Texans at No. 13 if a quarterback like Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett falls out of the top 10.
Q: What are the chances the Vikings go receiver at No. 12 after redoing Adam Thielen's contract and the emergence of K.J. Osborn last year? — Craig
AK: Because of the aforementioned reasons, I don't see it as a need that requires a first-round pick to address. College football seems to be churning out strong receiver classes every year. Head coach Kevin O'Connell has also alluded to this Vikings offense not exactly being a carbon copy of the Rams' three-receiver attack. They held onto fullback C.J. Ham, who carries the second-highest cap hit in 2022 among fullbacks, and added the Rams' No. 2 tight end in Johnny Mundt to pair with Irv Smith Jr. Meaning this offense could continue to mix up personnel formations and not necessarily play three or four receivers as often as other teams.
With all that said, a high pick at receiver wouldn't be the most shocking thing. They need more speed. Thielen turns 32 in August. Maybe Osborn, who has some juice, can help more downfield. But the Vikings might not need to spend a first-round pick to find more speed. Eight receivers clocked 40-yard dash times in the 4.2 and 4.3-second range at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Q: Is the Bradbury hype real? Say they don't add a veteran center, is a rookie late-round pick a realistic challenge to start come Week 1? — @bigbadragz
AK: So far, the Vikings haven't done much personnel-wise to challenge center Garrett Bradbury entering his fourth and final year under contract. The guy who briefly took his job last year, Mason Cole, signed with the Steelers in free agency. The Vikings signed ex-Broncos guard/center Austin Schlottmann to a minimum deal with nothing guaranteed. Perhaps a mid- or late-round draft pick could be added for depth, but it's difficult to see a scenario where Bradbury is supplanted right away before playing games for this coaching staff.
O'Connell was effusive about Bradbury this offseason, saying he's "what you look for from a core center from a standpoint of communicating." The Vikings view their current offensive line core as guard Ezra Cleveland and tackles Brian O'Neill and Christian Darrisaw. Bradbury has a lot to show to overcome three years of disappointment, but O'Connell appears ready to give him a shot for now, adding, "It's just been a matter of finding the right fit for him and the right system."
Q: Do they draft a quarterback in the later rounds this year? — @musiknw
AK: With status quo kept in the quarterback room between Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond, I don't see a scenario where the Vikings spend draft capital on another passer from what's considered a weak draft class. Mond, the 2021 third-round pick, should be viewed as the developmental option right now. The front office re-signing Mannion indicates they're not banking on Mond being backup ready after another offseason.
Q: After a pretty quiet free agency, are the Vikings set up to get any compensatory draft picks next year? – Evan
AK: They didn't get any comp picks this year, but that should change in 2023. The Vikings saw three of their own unrestricted free agents ink deals elsewhere worth at least $5 million per season between tight end Tyler Conklin, center Mason Cole and safety Xavier Woods. Conversely, they only signed one unrestricted free agent — nose tackle Harrison Phillips — to a contract over that price range. The Vikings' two other top signings in edge rusher Za'Darius Smith and linebacker Jordan Hicks don't count against them in the comp pick formula because they were cut by their former teams. That should set up the Vikings for a couple additional late-round picks in 2023.