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The majority of questions hitting the inbox this week still centered on the 2022 NFL Draft — for a multitude of reasons.
The event always is huge for so many football fans, and this year's added an element of intrigue to see how new General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell would approach things (and unveil their thoughts through actions).
People were still concerned about Minnesota's decision to move down from the 12th to the 32nd overall pick because they didn't like going that far down, they didn't like the perceived return that it netted and/or they were unhappy with Detroit — and then Green Bay — as dance partners.
The Vikings sent the 12th (used on WR Jameson Williams) and 46th overall picks (used on DE Josh Paschal) to the Lions in exchange for the 32nd, 34th and 66th overall picks. Eric offered examples of valuation charts in last week’s Mailbag, in case you missed it.
Disdain intensified the following night when Minnesota dealt the 34th pick (used on WR Christian Watson) to Green Bay in exchange for the 53rd (later traded by the Vikings to the Colts) and 59th overall picks. Minnesota acquired the 42nd overall pick and the 122nd by sending the 53rd, 77th and 192nd selections to Indianapolis.
Minnesota used the 32nd pick to select safety Lewis Cine, tabbed cornerback Andrew Booth, Jr., at No. 42, added guard Ed Ingram at No. 59 and drafted linebacker Brian Asamoah at 66.
I've chosen a few questions/comments below regarding the first round that I'll reply to collectively below.
Sorry to say but found our first draft under our new regime very underwhelming. To drop 20 places in the first round and get the number two safety when [Kyle] Hamilton was still on the board is a head scratcher. Also, the compensation, even though previously discussed, seems very low when a lot of people thought dropping eight places to number 20 would net us [at least a] 2023 first-rounder. Rest of draft average at best with dubious character issues included. Hopefully I will be proven wrong. Will be at Tottenham Stadium cheering on my Vikes. SKOL.
— Andy Turton in Rugby England
Seems like a good value [for Cine] at No. 32. Allowed to move up and snag a quality CB. Most of the NFL pundits note [Cine's] high football IQ, solid hard hitter. Add his pure speed. Detect and destroy. Potential for another Harrison Smith? Looking forward to the possibility of a three-safety backfield. Could be a very confusing defense for the opponents. But like all the trades and some of the selections were for me. Loaded in terms of numbers at RG. Sure hope we have the depth at CB? As usual time will tell if we picked good values.
OK, so let's look at what Vikings did with first-round pick. They traded WAY back from 12 to 32 with a division rival. (Adofo-Mensah) seems like a very bright guy, and I know there were many people in the war room. How do you NOT ask for one of Lions two first-round picks in 2023???!!! Per the Lions, they were expecting the Vikings to ask for it AND were willing to give it!! But they were shocked Minnesota only wanted to swap second-round picks. If true, (Adofo-Mensah) is a horrible GM! Then, with the 32 pick, they pick a safety. If they stayed at 12, they could have had the top safety in the draft, Hamilton. Or taken [cornerback Trent] McDuffie. Both considered better players than Cine. But the worst part is they let the Lions get the top receiver! Unacceptable. Then, the next day they trade with [Green Bay] and do not ask or get Green Bay's first-round pick next year! If GB isn't parting with a lot, we aren't trading with them. Makes NO sense to make GB better. Let another team trade with them. So another top WR goes to a division rival when our secondary is already awful. NOT smart moves. Now I hope they all work out, but first guess is both deals were terrible. So, on paper, after the draft is it safe to say the Vikings greatly improved BOTH the Lions and Packers and maybe slightly improved Vikings????
— Chris Barsa
I am a native Minnesotan who has followed the Vikings since the first snap of their first practice. After having a few days to contemplate our recent draft, I am still upset over the way it was handled. Trading back multiple times? Helping our division rivals? Was Rick Spielman still running the draft? Sure looked like it. No wonder we can never contend or get over .500. When I think of the players we could have had at 12 and 34, I can only shake my head and wonder what the leadership is thinking. I will be a Vikings fan for the rest of my life, but the franchise is sure making things tough on us loyal fans. I am almost 77 and time is rapidly running out for me to see a Lombardi [Trophy] in Minnesota. Come on Vikings! Don't let me down! SKOL forever!
— Irv Globstad in West Des Moines, Iowa
The Lions did what they think improves their team and so did the Packers and Vikings. Let's see who is right. Way too many draft picks don't work out.
— John Cobb
First off, the Vikings organization was excited last Wednesday to announce it will be participating in the 2022 International Series in one of this year’s three London Games. Minnesota will face New Orleans in Week 4. Sign up for more details at Vikings.com/london.
Heads up that the 2022 NFL schedule will be unveiled in its entirety at 7 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, May 12. Keep an eye and ear out for some other games that might get announced before then. Also, be sure to check out the schedule-related content we'll have here later this week.
View college action photos of every Vikings pick from the 2022 NFL Draft.
Andy, we're glad you plan to join us at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and look forward to the Vikings playing in their third different United Kingdom venue.
I get the sentiment that Andy and Chris share in thinking 20 spots in a first round seems like it should carry a hefty price tag. I read plenty of mock drafts that simulated trading down and netting a 2023 first-rounder for Minnesota, but we weren't on the phone during the actual negotiations. The Vikings opted to go with the draft capital gained from moving down the board to be able to move back up to pick Booth.
With regard to Cine being the "No. 2 safety," which was generally the consensus according to most draft experts, getting the second safety off the board worked out well for the Vikings in 2012. Minnesota tabbed Smith, a six-time Pro Bowler with 29 career interceptions at the 29th overall spot. Tampa Bay chose safety Mark Barron seventh overall that year, and while the former Alabama product did start 102 games from 2012-19 for the Buccaneers, Rams and Steelers, his time also included work as a linebacker.
It might come down to how the Vikings envision the safety position and the specific traits in a player that can make that system most effective. Hamilton is bigger than Cine, but the 40-yard dash times at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine show Cine's speed might offset the additional length that Hamilton has.
Cine clocked a 4.37, and his game tape backs up the speed with how he's applied it. Assuming Cine is the starter with Smith, they are likely to open a lot of plays from a shell coverage to help disguise Minnesota's intentions. Throw in the range and playmaking ability that Camryn Bynum showed last season as a rookie convert from cornerback, and there could be a couple of challenging packages implemented by the Vikings under new Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell, as suggested by Noel.
As for Noel's point about right guard, assuming the Vikings keep Ezra Cleveland at left guard, the possible options at right guard could include Ingram, 2021 starter Olisaemeka Udoh, 2021 third-round pick Wyatt Davis, veteran additions Chris Reed, Jesse Davis or Austin Schlottmann. Kyle Hinton, a 2020 seventh-rounder, also is on the roster.
That's several players to evaluate in the months to come.
View photos from Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft from inside the Thomson Reuters Vikings Draft Room, of first round draft pick Lewis Cine and in Las Vegas.
And at cornerback, the Vikings are now up to 10 players for a position that's had its depth tested the past couple of seasons. I'm personally excited to see the new additions in action during Organized Team Activity practices, beginning next week.
We'll get a first look at Minnesota's draft class and its undrafted free agents this Friday during a rookie minicamp practice.
Irv, I love your passion after all of these years, but I would like to credit Spielman's time with the Vikings. Did every move work out the way it was envisioned? No, but his efforts helped land talented players, particularly on offense and defense, who were a big part of playoff appearances in 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
One of Spielman's best trades ever was moving down eight spots in 2015 in a deal with Detroit. The Lions selected CB Alex Carter, and the Vikings drafted Danielle Hunter eight picks later, along with TE MyCole Pruitt. Not many folks were too high on Hunter right after the draft, but he developed into a top-tier defensive end. Pruitt didn't catch on here, but he's appeared in 79 games.
Because Adofo-Mensah did not have a built-in fracas mentality with the Lions or Packers, it allowed him to use a lens that was based primarily on maximizing value while addressing short-term and potential longer-term needs for the team.
John is taking a more measured wait-and-see approach. I get why quick report cards are immensely popular, but I also appreciate when folks revisit drafts to regrade several years after the fact.
Adofo-Mensah also has said that alternatives to not making the deals would have been some other team trading with Detroit or Green Bay to land the same players without Minnesota getting anything in return.
After reading [last week's] Mailbag I just thought I would share my thoughts about the Vikings and the draft. We've seen a lot of new faces over the past few months. I've been watching the interviews and press conferences. Starting with Kwesi, Kevin, the free agents and coaching staff, the one common element is a positive upbeat attitude that has been missing in Viking land for a while now. There's no doubt about it. Lewis Cine nailed it in the press conference and interviews. This is about building a culture, and Lewis is a perfect fit. I'm not crazy about trading with division rivals, but I think building culture was a central theme in this draft. I'm recently retired and thinking back about supervising people. I can tell you that one bad apple can make a lot of headaches and make your goals much harder to reach. The Vikings are on the right track. I'm excited about that. Having said that, I'm confident in the vetting process for Ed Ingram. Enough of that, let the man play football. One last thought, the draft assigns numbers to people. Ed Marinaro in his own unique way reminded us all that football players are people, too. I say let Ed announce all our picks for now on.
John Fedor in Watertown, Connecticut
While John's email was similar to the first few about the draft, I decided to separate it from the others.
Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell have frequently talked about culture and collaboration, and I believe it goes well beyond their public media sessions.
Ingram missed the 2018 season at LSU while he was investigated for a sexual assault allegation. The case was sealed, and there were no charges filed. The Vikings — and all NFL teams — put forth an intensive vetting process for all players the team considers adding to the roster. While not providing extensive details on the process, Vikings officials said they were OK with drafting Ingram based on what they learned during the process.
I think we could have stayed put and grabbed Hamilton or Williams and in the second round still have gotten Andrew Booth and should have never passed on [linebacker Nakobe] Dean, so our draft would be Hamilton, Booth and Dean 1, 2 and 3. These three would carry the team into the future. Why not tell the Lions no? Or we could have gotten Williams, Cine and Booth. There was no dire need to trade. We could have still got value without trading.
— Rodger in Sacramento, California
Overall, I'm relatively satisfied with Kwesi's picks in the draft. However, passing on Nakobe Dean left me scratching my head. What is your take on not drafting Dean?
— Paul Ryals in Stanchfield, Minnesota
Dean, one of Cine's former teammates at Georgia, was eventually picked by Philadelphia at No. 83. He was highly ranked by media members and analytics sites, but there was a collection of teams who drafted other inside linebackers before he came off the board. That included another Georgia LB (Quay Walker, No. 22 by Green Bay) and Asamoah.
Because of the pre-draft consensus, I was slightly surprised that Dean lasted that long. He was one of 15 Bulldogs drafted, a record for one school in one year. I personally don't know why there was that big of a gap between the media consensus and the viewpoints from draft rooms. It's certain that Dean showed up on film and during school visits by personnel departments. Was he less noticed because of so much talent around him? I don't know.
View photos from the 2022 Miller Lite Vikings Draft Party, hosted at U.S. Bank Stadium.
According to their NFL.com bio pages, Asamoah is listed an inch taller than Dean, with arms that are nearly an inch longer and hands that are bigger. Length can help in pass coverage as well as in reaching running backs. Asamoah was listed at 226 pounds, and Dean was listed at 229, so they are both in a weight class that was once deemed undersized for a middle linebacker, but Eric Kendricks (6-foot, 232) has shown that's where the game is heading.
All of the players Rodger mentioned were on the board when Minnesota went on the clock, so one could compare the careers of those players with the new Vikings, but the easiest answer is teams try to pick the players they believe will best help them in the now and the future.
Perhaps the Vikings could have stayed put at Nos. 12, 46 and 77, and maybe Booth could have still been the team's second pick. But, Ingram and Asamoah may have been off the board by 77, and then it's an either/or situation instead of adding both.
It seems everyone has an opinion on the picks in the draft, but everyone's opinion doesn't matter. Kwesi has a vision, and he got the players he wanted. Isn't that what you want to follow ... the club's vision? You can see Kwesi clearly has one and it follows the team's vision. I personally am happy to see it. He's not gathering seventh-round picks. He is using the draft for what it is ... a tool to move up and down to get the players the team wants. Sure we can ask the question, 'Why?' but the answers won't get here until the end of the season. It does look like our troubled areas were addressed and on paper, they look like they can help our team. I don't care that two of our division teams got players, but I don't care about them. I care about what I have control over.
— Jesse Price
If every decision is made by this new management group, who actually made the final decision on the draft picks?
— Jay Seeley
It was a different draft by the Vikings than what I am used to. On that note, I am giving the benefit of the doubt that the Vikings organization knew what they were doing. Can't really analyze the situation until Week 8.
— Jose Quiroz
Since I don't get paid to make football decisions and the guys in the draft room do so I will defer to their expertise. Regarding trading back, I wonder if there was a strategy to getting more guys later (cheaper) to try to keep some cap space for resigning J. Jets (Justin Jefferson) and any free agents that work out well. Your thoughts?
— Steve S. in Holland, Michigan
Here's another grouping of similarly related thoughts.
Jay, it was interesting to watch the approach the Vikings took. We'll have another "Introducing" video and written story about the draft this week on Vikings.com in which we'll detail some of the thought processes and the atmosphere in the room.
We'll relay how information was sourced from multiple perspectives, even if Adofo-Mensah is the GM and ultimately will have to answer for all picks.
It seems like the Vikings wanted to be in range to make a cluster of picks in the top 70 selections this year. Minnesota made four, including three defensive players and a guard. Generally, the higher picks contribute the fastest, while players taken later might need more development.
Jesse and Jose have probably gotten familiar with recent Vikings drafts that have included multiple seventh-round selections. Those can provide hits and misses at a lower-risk/possibly limited reward situation.
After making six trades, including three during the fourth round to start the final day, Adofo-Mensah stayed put with the selections that had previously changed.
Steve's point about draft order affecting compensation could come into play, especially given Minnesota's previous history of trying to draft, develop and retain core players. Jefferson is an incredible star who looks great in Purple and has already done some great work in the community, despite having to work through restrictions caused by COVID-19. But the top goal of a draft will always be to best improve your own team.
View photos of the Vikings 2022 undrafted free agents the team has agreed to terms with.
Watching the draft and not grabbing a tight end until [the seventh round]. Do you think [C.J.] Ham might move from fullback to part-time tight end with his blocking and [ability to] catch the ball?
— Greg English
The Vikings closed their 10-player draft by selecting Nick Muse out of South Carolina. He joins a position group that includes Irv Smith, Jr., Ben Ellefson, Johnny Mundt and Zach Davidson.
Irv Smith was badly missed last season, and the Vikings now have to fill the void created by Tyler Conklin's departure in free agency. Ellefson showed some potential, primarily as a blocker, when healthy last season. Mundt has previous experience in O'Connell's system. Davidson showed some raw talent during practices last year. Muse has a good opportunity to vie for playing time as well.
I'm looking forward to seeing how O'Connell adapts his offense with Ham in the mix. Ham's versatility allows him to move around to different spots before snaps, beyond the fullback position. It also will give O'Connell a chess piece for the game within a game.
Let's say a team uses 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) and a defense counters with a nickel or other sub package designed to defend the pass.
But if a team goes to 21, the defense might be forced to respect the run with its base defense to prevent getting pounded by Ham blocking for Dalvin Cook. Well, then O'Connell could try to find a matchup in the passing game against that extra linebacker.
Colleague Lindsey Young has a great feature on Ham as part of her "Getting Open" content series that will be posted today.