EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings added 10 total players through draft selections and negotiated a total of six trades during the three days of the 2022 NFL Draft.
It was the 62nd NFL Draft in franchise history and first with Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager and Kevin O'Connell as head coach.
Here are six takeaways.
1. Early priority on defense | By Lindsey Young
Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings focused almost primarily on defense early on, dedicating five of the team's first six picks to that side of the ball – and three of them toward defensive backs.
"In this league, cornerback depth is important. You need four good ones, at least. You need depth year-in and year-out," Adofo-Mensah said. "That position will get challenged. We're excited to add to the competition we had in that room. We have some great players here, and we're excited for what we added to the room in general."
Minnesota kicked off its 2022 draft by trading down from 12th overall to 32nd, where the Vikings selecting Georgia safety Lewis Cine 32nd overall on Thursday. Round 2 included another addition to the Vikings secondary when Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth, Jr., was selected 42nd overall.
Oklahoma linebacker Brian Asamoah was tabbed in Round 3 with the 66th overall pick.
On Day 3, the Vikings drafted Missouri cornerback Akayleb Evans (118th) and Minnesota defensive lineman Esezi Otomewo (165th) before rounding out the draft with four late-round offensive selections.
Adofo-Mensah said he was "happy" to draft a former Gopher to the Vikings. Otomewo is the first to follow that path since Nate Triplett in 2010.
"He was a Top 30 guy. Really enjoyed spending time with him," he said of Otomewo. "He's incredible. I think he's got a bright future. He's gritty, he's tough, he's got a quiet leadership presence about him."
View college action photos of every Vikings pick from the 2022 NFL Draft.
2. Emphasis on maximum early value | By Eric Smith
Each NFL team is going to have a variation of rankings on their draft boards, and those numbers might not match what draft experts have compiled in recent months, either.
But there was a strong sense that the Vikings received great value for their first two picks in Cine and Booth, both of whom were among the top players at their respective positions.
With Cine, for example, Adofo-Mensah said Minnesota had him rated in the teens before eventually picking him at No. 32.
ESPN draft expert Jordan Reid, by the way, had Cine as his 30th overall player.
"I think he embodies everything we talk about with our culture," Adofo-Mensah said of Cine. "Smart, tough, competitive. I don't know that there's anybody else who can have embodied it more. We're excited to have him."
After Adofo-Mensah traded down from No. 12 to the 32nd pick, he then maneuvered in the second round, too.
Adofo-Mensah used the 34th overall selection he gained to move down and then moved back up to No. 42 to select Booth, whom many viewed as a first-round talent despite his injury history.
Reid ranked Booth as his No. 16 overall player, while Dane Brugler of The Athletic had Booth as the No. 26 player on his board. And NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah ranked Booth as his No. 32 overall prospect.
To get Booth with the 42nd pick felt like a bit of a steal for Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings.
"You think about [his injuries], and I thought he was a pretty good player as it is," Adofo-Mensah said. "So the chance to be even better was too good of a possibility to pass up. Ultimately, that's why we came up in the draft."
3. Cornerbacks of Length | By Craig Peters
The selections of Booth and Evans added depth and length to Minnesota's cornerbacks room.
Vikings national scout Chisom Opara said Evans' size and length "stand out right away" and "he's got some speed to go with that."
"Any time you have a guy with some size and length, it does create some opportunities in matchup settings," Opara said. "Maybe covering some tight ends, doing some specialized stuff, but I think primarily he's an outside guy, and then as we get him comfortable, we'll see if he can handle some different roles for us."
4. Plenty of (College Football Playoff) experience | By Eric Smith
Players can often make a name for themselves if they shine on college football's biggest stage.
Justin Jefferson did it a few years back, helping LSU win a national title in January of 2020 to cap off an undefeated season.
There was a noticeable trend early on with the Vikings, and Minnesota's first four picks played in the College Football Playoff at some point in their college careers.
Cine helped Georgia win it all this past season and was named the game's Defensive MVP.
Booth was a part of two Clemson teams that played in the CFP, although the 42nd overall pick played in just one of those games, a January 2021 loss to Ohio State.
Minnesota's other second-round pick, LSU guard Ed Ingram, was a teammate of Jefferson's and also won a national championship.
Asamoah also played in the CFP for Oklahoma in December of 2019, although it was a loss against LSU.
Adofo-Mensah said Friday that those four players just happened to participate in the CFP, but he noted that experience will certainly help them as they transition to the Vikings.
"You know, I remember reading when I was in grad school that there was a bias towards the NCAA Tournament in basketball, right? They'd take guys who did well in the NCAA Tournament, and then it didn't end up turning out great," Adofo-Mensah said. "At our level, I think it probably is a little different just because you get to see – it's like the NFL, right? It is pretty much what an NFL game looks like.
"We try to watch those games, but like everything we do, it's just like, 'How much can you learn in a 30-minute interview versus four years of scouting information on them?' It's the same thing – you want to weight with its proper importance," Adofo-Mensah continued. "And again, it's nice to see them against different level competition, but a lot of times it's a non-conference game, right, so you get to see them against different competition.
"It's great that all these guys were there, but I think that speaks more to the cultures they come from and the cultures we're trying to bring in here – smart, tough, competitive – and those things ring true for championship teams, and that's what we want to be here," Adofo-Mensah added.
5. All dance partners considered | By Lindsey Young
As a first-year GM, Adofo-Mensah entered the 2022 NFL Draft with no track record or known tendencies.
He told media members he'd be open to trades, though, and that was certainly demonstrated throughout all three days. Not only did he make six trades during the draft, but Adofo-Mensah traded within the NFC North by dealing with the Lions and Packers on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
View photos of Vikings S Lewis Cine's draft night as he was selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
The most talked-about trade for Minnesota was the Round 1 transaction with Detroit. The Lions used the acquired pick to draft Alabama receiver Jameson Williams. Green Bay also took a receiver when they moved up via Minnesota on Friday; the Packers drafted North Dakota State receiver Christian Watson 34th overall.
Asked about the pair of trades with division foes, Adofo-Mensah emphasized his focus on Minnesota's roster and how to put together the best team possible.
"The other thing people should realize is that they can call other teams, so we were pretty sure that the team behind us was going to get the same deal. Having that team get that player and us not get those picks isn't a better outcome," he explained. "The only better outcome would have been to take that player, but in our situation we didn't think that was the best decision to do.
"Another trade we made, I think the same dynamic was in place. You have to make those decisions, and that's the choice we made," he continued. "We also knew they could trade with somebody else. We'd rather reap the benefits of the trade if we so thought. We are OK. This is a great league; those are great organizations, and we're going to have to compete with them either way, and we'll be ready for the challenge."
6. Trade, Trade, Trade | By Craig Peters
Adofo-Mensah brought the frenzy of his Wall Street trading background to the Thomson Reuters Draft Room Saturday morning.
Within an hour of the final day's start, Adofo-Mensah had orchestrated three trades.
Minnesota first moved up the board to select Evans at No. 118 overall. In exchange for the spot that was held by Cleveland, the Vikings sent the No. 156 overall pick and a 2023 fourth-rounder to the Browns.
Shortly after that, Adofo-Mensah sent the 122nd overall pick he had obtained the previous night from the Colts and the 250th overall selection to the Raiders in exchange for picks 126 and 227.
The dealings with Las Vegas must have gone smoothly because Minnesota sent the 126th back the host city moments later to acquire the 165th and 169th overall picks that were used on Minnesota DL Esezi Otomewo and North Carolina RB Ty Chandler.
"You typically want to target parts of the board because it's an auction," Adofo-Mensah said. "It's a first-price auction. All you need is one name to be called, so you always want to put yourself in a situation, 'Hey, there's five good players in this area of the board or five very good players in this area of the board.'
"As you go down the draft, and there's a sense that those five players that you would take at that pick are going to be available 20 picks later, that becomes an opportunity, right? So you start with a plan and always sort of adapt and evolve as the board takes shape and goes on," he continued. "You sometimes get lulled into this false sense of security and you're looking at your board and you're so panicked that all of these players are going to go, but you have to realize that your board doesn't look like everybody else's board. That's why we have a draft. … Sometimes you're rewarded for those risks and trading back and adding picks, but other times you trade up. We did both, and ultimately it was to be able to target certain parts of the board for different reasons."