EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings new General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah isn't too concerned about what the first 11 teams do during the NFL Draft.
He'll be paying attention, of course; he's done as much recon ahead of time as possible, to be sure. But Adofo-Mensah ultimately can't control what happens before Minnesota goes on the clock at No. 12.
"You try and get a sense. You guys are an incredible source of information when it comes to that," Adofo-Mensah told Twin Cities media members Tuesday. "First and foremost … if you're picking [at No.] 12, make sure there's 12 names that can come out of your mouth. That's where you start your discussions."
In other words, don't back yourself into a corner by trying to pinpoint exactly who will be – and won't be – on the board. Rather, be prepared for any and all scenarios.
"Then at the point, you start asking yourself, 'Well, if it's this person versus this other [person], what would you do?' " Adofo-Mensah said. "So, really, I'm not worried so much specifically about what's going to be done in front of us, but what situation will be presented to us and what's our way to best respond from there."
If selecting from No. 12 becomes less enticing because of what happens in the first 11 picks, it would be prudent to have a path down the board to collect extra picks or even a way to climb as the first round progresses.
Here are four other takeaways from Adofo-Mensah's pre-draft media session:
1. Quantity vs. quality
The Vikings currently are slated to make eight selections over the three-day event.
Will Minnesota keep all eight? Will the team trade up, trade down or move around within the rounds?
Being new to his role, Adofo-Mensah was asked to describe his thoughts on "quality versus quantity" when it comes to draft picks.
He demonstrated that both should be considered.
"In the NFL, it's this, sort of between the NBA dynamic where special players do matter," Adofo-Mensah said, "but you've got a big team and you've got depth needed and you've got things you've got to fill out, so I think volume is really important.
"Now, I would push that whatever chart anybody is using, there's no [number] of seventh-round picks that will equal the value of a first pick," he added. "You could do that with a thousand seventh-round picks, and that's not going to equal the value because there's a specialness that comes with that first-round pick that isn't replaceable very easily."
View every Vikings first round draft pick through the years.
Adofo-Mensah said it's important to "go back and forth" about the two pieces.
"It's not a simple math equation. I love these conversations now as a GM because I used to be one of the people building those charts, and I kind of laugh with people," he said. "Use those as a backboard but talk about this and understand the dynamics that go forth."
2. Assessing risk vs. reward
Adofo-Mensah was asked the way he assesses risk versus reward when it comes to on- or off-field ("character") question marks surrounding players.
Before delving into the answer, Adofo-Mensah first offered some context.
"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, who are not perfect when they come out. I know I wasn't perfect coming out as a 21-year-old — far from it.
"We're just trying to figure out if they can operate in a professional environment to try to be the best they can be as an NFL player and also represent the organization well. That looks different, right?" Adofo-Mensah continued. "There's a lot of different past histories, that if you look in our building, there's probably a lot of past issues that ended up being the players they are today, so I wanted to start by saying that."
He then emphasized that risk-reward is not an exact science.
"It's something you pay attention to if there's a certain value for a player, yeah, there's got to be a certain discount for certain things like injury risk and things like that," Adofo-Mensah said. "But it's not this perfect, 'Hey, it's 10 percent here or 5 percent here, or a round discount.' It's kind of an imperfect science with a little bit of art and a little bit of math together. I think that's where we thrive."
3. 'Closing the loop'
As Adofo-Mensah, the Vikings scouting department and Vikings coaching staff have been tirelessly working through prospects ahead of the draft, how do they differentiate when coming across players who measure similarly in most categories?
Adofo-Mensah pointed out the various "lenses" that scouts, coaches and others view prospective picks through.
"Coaches, their viewing lens is going to be shaded by technique, responsibility, because those are things they are really great at. Scouts are going to be shaded by your natural ability – 'What's in your body?' Analytics people, myself, are going to be shaded by the outcome – 'Hey, how many times is this happening? What percentage of times?' " he explained. "Ultimately, there is value to all of those things, and I wouldn't want anyone to become the other. I want them to be great in their own sense.
"I wouldn't say it's putting more weight on the other. It's using them all equally and then closing the loop when they don't all agree," Adofo-Mensah added. "If one person says the outcome is different than his ability, well, let's figure that out. Ultimately, that's what we try to do. Close the loop and ultimately figure out a good answer to decide where we want to be."
4. Not mine but ours
It goes without saying that all eyes are on Adofo-Mensah in his first-time role as a general manager.
The Vikings completed 10 drafts with Rick Spielman, and it's fair to say that most GMs lean toward specific trends in the draft process.
How will Adofo-Mensah make his mark on the event?
Having emphasized "collaboration" since Day 1, Adofo-Mensah reiterated that theme.
"I hope they don't say it's my signature about anything. It's our signature," he said. "You know, when you sit in a room with [Head Coach] Kevin [O'Connell], he always kind of winces when you say, 'I' or 'me,' and that's kind of what we're building here. This is about 'we.'
"I'm not going to do anything for the sake of me or any type of perception I want out there in the public," Adofo-Mensah added. "We're going to do what's best for this organization. We have a time horizon that we're planning for, and we have our needs in front. We're just going to try to address them the best we can."
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