Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Adofo-Mensah on Combine's Role in Narrowing Vikings Avenues

Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is in his third year of continuing a plan that balances short-term and long-term visions.

The team is 20-14 through two regular seasons but facing multiple big questions in the 2024 offseason.

"Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen interviewed Adofo-Mensah from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis for a conversation that aired during Wednesday's KFAN 9 to Noon program.

Allen asked the GM if he was tasked upon being hired in 2022 with "getting the roster younger and finding money for free agency" opportunities.

"I don't know if [the Wilfs] specifically said that to me, but in our conversations, we talked a lot about sustained success and setting yourself up for a multiple-year window. Oblong ball, you don't want to just throw everything into one year. You want to give yourself a chance over a multi-year period," Adofo-Mensah said. "So in doing so, we talked about a plan and how to eventually got to this place – and we're glad we got here.

"I know I throw out the term 'competitive rebuild' a lot, and I don't know what percentage of games we played in our two years in a playoff spot, but it's most of them," he added. "We've been competitive, we hung a banner, we've done a lot of great things while being able to get to a place this offseason where we do have some of our assets back, and we do have draft picks, and things like that."

Minnesota opened 2022 by improving to 9-2 with a win on Thanksgiving Night and clinched the division three weeks later. In 2023, the team rebounded from a 1-4 start with five consecutive victories and held its own playoff destiny in its fate but faded down the stretch.

Adofo-Mensah and his staff have a number of items on their to-do list, including continuing contract discussions with Kirk Cousins, as well as talks about an extension with Justin Jefferson – whom Adofo-Mensah has no intentions of trading.

A key factor in these discussions and decisions is Minnesota's salary cap space. Worth noting is that the NFL announced Feb. 23 the 2024 Salary Cap is increasing to $255.4 million per club. According to the league, the "unprecedented $30 million increase per club" is the result of repayment of all amounts during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to a large increase in media revenue for the upcoming season.

Adofo-Mensah now is tasked with maximizing the combine, pre-draft process and free agency to build Minnesota's 2024 roster.

"These decisions just didn't happen today. We've been talking about our plan for months. You start putting together a plan, and maybe you narrow it down to three different avenues," he told Allen. "The combine is a great place to get information about which avenues you're getting closer to going. What parts of that avenue are gonna be more likely than not? So that's a big part of the combine, just getting information and then honing in."

Adofo-Mensah noted "constant dialogue" with Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and the leadership staff.

"[And] we're getting news while we're here – players getting released from other teams and things like that – which also changes the equation," he added. "So at the end of the day, I'm doing the same thing everybody else is doing. We're trying to make our team better in the best, most efficient way possible."

One part of the combine experience includes the short interviews teams can conduct with draft prospects.

Adofo-Mensah's personal approach is to take a mostly observational role, letting the coaches and scouts lead the interviews so he can simply evaluate. He compared the interviews to "speed dating to get to know somebody" – though it's important to not put the full weight of a decision onto that 15-minute conversation.

"If you left a conversation with me in 15 minutes, I think there's something you would leave with. You wouldn't leave with the … entire depth of me – but you'd leave with one or two things. And I think with the players, it's the same thing," Adofo-Mensah said. "You leave with one or two things that, what do they hold that's dear? What makes them, them? Is hard work what they value? Whatever it is, I think you can leave those sessions with those things.

"There's a lot of things you can learn from those, and I'm trying to pick up on all of it," he added. "But you can always be mindful of the fact we have multiple years of character data from our scouts. We have multiple years of watching film. We're gonna get all this data. So I've gotta weight that 15-minute interaction relative to the amount of data I get from everyone else."

Ahead of this year's NFL Draft, there's been talk about which positions are the deepest.

Quarterback and tackle have been regarded highly by multiple people, but Adofo-Mensah emphasized he sees depth at other position groups.

Beyond on-field talent, though, there are other things to consider such as the player's age and experience. Did he tack on additional collegiate seasons due to pandemic exceptions? Did he transfer multiple times?

"As you speak to the changing dynamics of college football, it's not just the age. It's the NIL and the transfer portal. There's just a lot of things that now go into the evaluation that didn't before," Adofo-Mensah said. "And with everything that you do that you haven't seen before, it just comes down to sitting down with smart people, hopefully smarter than me, and we sit together and get our ideas out on the table and make a decision for how we want to go forward. You don't know. It's called uncertainty for a reason. But as long as you know why you did what you did, that's all people are going to ask."

Entering his third year in this role for the Vikings, Adofo-Mensah said he's learned a lot with each offseason.

"I'm probably my harshest critic," he explained. "I say a lot that I don't read stuff because there's nobody who's harder on themselves than I am. I look at all our decisions, and I try to group them. You don't want to get too overblown with one decision versus three or four, but you do pick up trends, and you do find ways you can be better."

Adofo-Mensah said he and his staff have identified ways that processes can be improved. The group is energized about the next steps.

"I think we've made some good decisions and we're gonna continue to make some more, and we're excited," he said. "All you can do in this league is show it, though, right? We've got a big offseason for us, and we're excited about that. But I know we planned, we prepared, we've gotten a lot of people involved, and we're just excited about that.

"If there's one thing I had to say in my first two years, it's when you look back at it, understand the complex but also make sure it stays really simple," Adofo-Mensah said. "At the end of the day, you've just gotta stack a lot of good decisions together and get to a good place to compete for a championship. That's something we're always focused on but more heightened focus now. We're excited about this offseason to show what we mean by that."