MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Heading into his first draft as the Vikings’ general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is stressing malleability as the team’s key tenet.
“Ultimately, first and foremost, your first job is if you’re picking 12, make sure there’s 12 names that can come out of your mouth,” he said at a Tuesday morning press conference.
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“Give yourself options,” he added. “I started this season by telling our personnel staff, our coaches, if you give us options, we become dangerous. But if you tell me there’s only one player that we like, then there’s nothing I can do.”
Adofo-Mensah said he’ll lean heavily on that aforementioned staff come Thursday, and that he wants a “really collaborative” draft room.
“Our draft room is like a real-life algorithm” he said. “Essentially, algorithms combine different information sources into some final output. And so I wanted our draft room to be essentially that, a lot of different voices that came together and then ultimately on the end of that, here’s a number, here’s a recommendation that says how confident this room with different sources is in what we’re about to do.”
The Vikings have the 12th pick in the first round, and Adofo-Mensah thinks there are “some incredible players at the top of the draft.” At the same time, he said they are “always calling teams” about potential trades.
“Every GM’s involved, and we’ve had some great conversations, they’ve had some great conversations with us,” he said. “Ultimately, we’re ready to do whatever is presented to us. If we stay in the pick at 12, we’re gonna do it and we’re gonna do it the best that we can for this organization, and if it’s not that then we’ll do something different.”
Adofo-Mensah’s predecessor at GM, Rick Spielman, was well-known for stockpiling draft picks. While the new man at the helm acknowledges the value of quantity, he also stressed the importance of quality.
“Special players do matter, but you’ve got a big team, and you’ve got depth needed and you’ve got things that you’ve gotta fill out, so I think volume is really important,” he said. “Now I would push that whatever chart anybody’s using, there’s no amount of seventh round picks that will equal the value of the first pick.”READ MORE: Vikings Get Big Pass-Rush Boost With Hunter's Healthy Return
The Vikings have eight picks in this year’s draft, including three sixth-rounders. Adofo-Mensah sounds confident his staff has done its homework and will be able to add quality contributors with each and every one of those picks.
Part of that homework was connecting with prospects at the NFL combine last month, but Adofo-Mensah said for the Vikings, that’s a small part of the overall picture.
“We wanted to make sure that we use that data point in its contextual importance,” he said. “I want to make sure that first and foremost we’re not overweighting a 20-minute session where there have maybe been 15 before us and they’re 21-, 22-year-old kids and they might be a little fatigued and they might not be their best versions of themselves.
The value of the interviews, he said, is to find out “what’s their why, what drives them.”
Adofo-Mensah also took issue with the oft-cited “character concerns” label that gets slapped on some draft prospects.
“That word ‘character’ always gets thrown out so often, I always want to be specific,” he said. “You’re talking about human beings, 21, 22 years old. We were not perfect when we come out, I know I wasn’t perfect coming out as a 21-year-old, far from it.”
With his first draft as GM just days away, Adofo-Mensah seems calm and confident. It remains to be seen if that cool demeanor will hold strong once picks start flying off the board, but if nothing else, you can’t say he doesn’t have a plan in place.MORE NEWS: Vikings Add Analytics Expert Demitrius Washington In VP Role
“We can’t control what happens this weekend, all we can do is prepare like crazy and move as a unit, move together,” Adofo-Mensah said. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen at the draft, but we have a lot of scenarios planned for and we will best respond to whatever comes our way.”