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Adofo-Mensah & O'Connell Explain Timing of Trade for Pick, Options in First Round

Kevin O'Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah escaped the need to snow shovel Sunday or Monday, but they've still been putting in work, thanks to a recent accumulation.

The Vikings head coach and general manager are among leaders from all 32 teams at this week's Annual League Meeting, which is being hosted in Florida and is casually referred to as the Owners Meeting.

Adofo-Mensah spoke with Vikings Entertainment Network's Tatum Everett and said it's a bit surreal that he and O'Connell already are entering their third season with Minnesota. He also admitted he's a bit more comfortable taking a breather in the sun than he was in 2022.

"That first year you get invited [to the Owners Meeting], you are under it. The water hose is flowing, and they invite you to a warm place and people are sitting by the pool, and that's the last place you want to be," Adofo-Mensah laughed. "There's a lot of decisions to get made, especially that first year. Now we're in a much better place. We've had a really great, dedicated, intentional offseason. We feel like we're in a great spot. We're about to finish it off with the final stretch of this draft season.

"So it's great to be here with that in place and connecting with great friends. I get to see my friends from San Francisco and Cleveland and just connect, talk about ideas, and again, all in the pursuit of competition and getting better," he added. "This is a great environment for it."

Adofo-Mensah enjoys the opportunity to learn from others, as well as listen and discuss potential scenarios throughout rule-change proposal meetings.

He's also aware of all the different scenarios that could present themselves during the upcoming NFL Draft – especially now that Minnesota has an extra first-round selection to work with.

The Vikings headed into the new league year with the 11th overall pick, and on March 15 they executed a trade with the Texans to additionally acquire pick No. 23.

"I think my wife would tell you I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about draft scenarios," Adofo-Mensah quipped. "I stare at my [draft] board often."

He shared an anecdote with Everett about his time as a Wall Street trader, during which he learned a valuable lesson from a colleague.

"[He] would always tell me, 'Look at a chart and dream.' Look at a stock chart, really, and think, 'What could it look like a year to come?' " Adofo-Mensah recounted. "I think I've taken that over to football and kind of look at our draft picks, our roster, and dream. Just try to think about what the team can look like, be like, to fit into the image of how K.O. (O'Connell) and [Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores] want to play. So we've done that."

O'Connell also spoke with Everett about trading to obtain another first-round draft spot, noting his shared excitement about the possibilities it opens up.

"As you continue to do more work on this year's draft – not just at the quarterback position but defensively, different aspects of O-line, D-line, it's a really deep draft – and we really think it's deep between our 11th pick and that 23rd pick that we were able to acquire, where you're really talking about adding, potentially, two difference-makers to your team," O'Connell said.

He went on to acknowledge continued "work on the quarterback position" and the possibility of using both picks to add a pair of talented players, or "possibly using those picks to move up" above No. 11.

"That's the flexibility we really wanted when considering what we were able to do in that trade," O'Connell said. "And it's rare to do a trade like that early in the process; we felt like that was kind of a draft-day kind of trade that we were able to make early and then maybe not pay the extreme price tag that you do when people tend to know what you may be going up for."

O'Connell noted it's important to maintain that open mind and not cling too tightly to any one player or outcome.

That would be doing the entire organization a disservice, he pointed out during an interview with Twin Cities media members.

"If you go into it with a stubborn mind of, 'It's got to be this and this alone,' [it could be problematic]," O'Connell said. "My job in this process is to evaluate the quarterbacks, build relationships with these guys and really envision what it's going to look like for the long term with that player being a Minnesota Viking – figuring out how that fits in comparison with every one of them if you throw them up on a board.

"And then ultimately, working with Kwesi and [Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Rob [Brzezinski] and the rest of our organization to figure out how we tactically go based upon [our options]," O'Connell continued. "Maybe it is another team we're able to work with to try to get to a place that, we feel like that player is worthy to go get and is somebody we want to build around for the foreseeable future by going to do something like that. That is a major, major organizational decision."

O'Connell assured the Vikings will "all be on the same page" when making such impactful decisions.

"That flexibility with that move that Kwesi made to get pick 23 was about the flexibility but also looking at a draft where I do believe there's going to be a lot of offensive players go in the top 10," he said. "When that first defensive player goes, when that second or third goes, I wouldn't be shocked if it's right around our pick at 11, and at pick 23, what does it mean if defensive players that might have been top-five picks, top-seven picks are now in the teens or 20s?

"We can add some really good players to our team, even if we're not able to take that big swing that I know we're excited about the possibility of doing, but it's got to make sense for us and unfortunately another team, as well," O'Connell added.

Adofo-Mensah also emphasized, whether it's a bundle-and-trade, staying pat at 11 and 23 or going through Door No. 3, the trade with Houston grows draft-day options exponentially.

"I don't think [those two picks] lock us into any one strategy. You know, the mock draft season is here, so I think people are probably thinking they know with more certainty what we're gonna do than the Vikings do," Adofo-Mensah said with a smile. "But we're excited about the flexibility we have, and we're going to approach the board with that mindset."