Kwesi Adofo-Mensah calls roster construction "a beautiful puzzle," which can be argued.
After all, what's beautiful about a construction process that spits out an 8-9 record? Not a darn thing. But that's the past, and the Vikings contend they are not rebuilding. Adofo-Mensah is tasked with adding enough talent to create a playoff-caliber team.
Thursday's NFL draft is the time to shop for more pieces to the puzzle, and there are many options for the Purple.
The modern professional sports executive appears to embrace a certain lexicon. We learned that when Derek Falvey was named the Twins' new leader before the 2017 season and spoke of a culture of collaboration. Adofo-Mensah used that word Tuesday as he made a pre-draft news conference appearance and described the Vikings draft board as a "real-life algorithm."
Adofo-Mensah can talk the talk, and it's no surprise that he knows Falvey. The two met about 10 years ago, and Falvey recently pointed out that Adofo-Mensah's college roommate was Mike Chernoff, who is the GM of the Cleveland Guardians, where Falvey worked before joining the Twins.
These college-educated, analytically bent cats travel in similar circles.
As Adofo-Mensah prepares for his first draft as Vikings general manager, here's another word he might have to embrace: Pivoting.
The Twins first exposed this to us during the trade deadline in 2017 when they dealt for lefthander Jaime Garcia to boost their postseason hopes and then dealt him away a week later when the team hit the skids. The Twins explained that they needed to pivot based on the run of losses. Little did they know they would play well enough to reach the wild-card game that year.
Pivoting could be in play Thursday for young Kwesi, as he sits on the 12th overall pick. There are several signs that the first round will be topsy-turvy:
- There is no consensus No. 1 pick, although Georgia defensive end Travon Walker is popping up there in the latest pre-draft mockery.
- The rest of the first round looks to be unpredictable. This suggests draft boards could be volatile from team to team. There could be surprise selections in front of the Vikings that force them to pivot.
- And there are many teams with extra picks. The Jaguars, Chiefs, Packers, Texans, Ravens, Chargers and Eagles all have at least 10 picks in the seven-round draft and could pair a couple to move up.
This could be a pivot point for the Vikings as well. They love LSU corner Derek Stingley Jr, but Stingley might be taken as high as third overall. They also like Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. a smart but not speedy player. But Hamilton is being mocked to the Commanders, who own the 11th pick. A trade up to snag a top priority? Trade down if favorites are gone? We'll see.
The Vikings might also take a wide receiver at 12. New head coach Kevin O'Connell is an offense guy. Most of the Vikings' work to this point has been to bolster the defense. O'Connell could use another toy.
The greatest quandary for the Vikings would be if Hamilton and a wideout such as Ohio State's Chris Olave are available at 12, along with game-wrecking defensive tackle Jordan Davis from Georgia. I would take Davis here and watch the defensive line flourish.
Another reason trading down is a possibility: The Vikings need a corner, and they like Andrew Booth Jr. out of Clemson as well as Washington's Trent McDuffie. They could trade down in the first round. accepting multiple picks from a team loaded with them, and land one of those talents.
"There is somebody sitting in a building right now who thinks that player is going to be the next great player," Adofo-Mensah said. "That person might want to trade up for them but, ultimately, we'll find that out on Thursday or Friday or Saturday, whenever it happens, and we'll be ready for it."
So we just might get to see what kind of pivot move Adofo-Mensah has as he builds the 2022 Vikings.