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Monday Morning Mailbag: Adofo-Mensah's Approach & Path to Vikings GM Job

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Happy about the hire as a longtime fan. Plenty to appreciate in our new GM with his reputation, experience and skill set. Lots of hopes. I'm not sure I agree with Kwesi's definition of analytics as it relates to football. I heard him describe it as thoughtful and intentional. That's too broad. To me, analytics in football more specifically means using data and trends to help make thoughtful and intentional decisions. He also talked about leaving no stone unturned. If that truly is his approach, his definition of analytics is far less important than his use of it.

— Jeff in Sacramento

Jeff kicks us off after a very eventful week at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, and brings up a question that many fans might have as Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's tenure begins in Minnesota.

I do think Jeff's inquiry is a fair one, as is the way he described what analytics means to him. And I do think it's worth noting that Adofo-Mensah's approach could be vastly different than the way things have been run around here for a long time.

So, let's dive into it.

Jeff's reference about Adofo-Mensah's comments about being thoughtful and intentional is a phrase the Vikings GM did use a few times during his introductory press conference. And yes, it's a bit of a broad brush.

But I thought he also explained his approach in a bit more detail to another question that came his way about his numbers-based background and how that will translate to his new role.

Here was his response:

"Both of those things are information. Somebody watches a game, a player, right, they're making high level assumptions and observations about what that player's doing. Now, humans are really great at that higher-order, complex thinking. And so, a lot of times, that gift becomes a curse, in a sense, because you sometimes will miss the simple thing. So analytics, or simple observations, allows you to write those simple observations down as data and be able to go back later and study them historically. Very simply, you can go back and say, 'Hey, is there any information that would've helped us make this decision better in the past?' In a simple manner. But that's the same thing that a scout watches and does with his process. He goes and says 'hey, of all the great players that have come in the league that I observed before, what worked?' What predicted the right thing? And as I said, it's combining both. You appreciate that they're different. You want one to cover the other in terms of blind spots. So really, it's just that combined approach. They honestly are the same thing, they're just two different avenues to get there."

That's a lot to digest. But the end of that answer, where he references the blind spots, is the key for me.

I highly doubt Adofo-Mensah is going to build the current and future iteration of the Vikings on a computer. But I also believe he'll remain committed to his approach even if working with others who haven't done things that way.

Instead, as he alluded to, there will likely be some combination of both mindsets — a bit of new-school with some old-school mixed in — that he brings to the job.

I mentioned this above, but Adofo-Mensah's approach will likely take some time to get used to.

But that's OK, because it won't take long to get a read on how he sees the roster and the order of importance he places on moves, AKA, which ones are made first.

Overall, there was little doubt Adofo-Mensah won the press conference. As the real work begins, we'll get to see firsthand just what approach he brings.

[Adofo-Mensah has] 10 years of lower-level management experience. Not enough NFL experience, IMO. Analytics guy. Not buying it. Experience is huge in understanding how to build a roster. I have no choice, as a fan, but to hope he succeeds. But hope does not equal success, his accomplishments within the NFL are not clearly delineated. Because he was on staff with a Super Bowl participant = résumé gold? The Wilfs are taking a flyer here. Not a fan of the choice. Hope he proves me wrong.

— John Haley

I had to shake my head a little at this email from John a bit.

Since when is being a Vice President of Football Operations considered low-level management?

And since when is there a requirement that a GM candidate must work their way up through the scouting/front office ladder for two decades to get that role?

Adofo-Mensah, for what it's worth, did move up the ranks to get to where he is now, moving into three different roles over nine years before landing the Vikings GM job.

And it's not as if he sat in an office all day in his role in Cleveland and wasn't involved/getting valuable experience to what the Browns were doing on a day-to-day basis.

Browns GM Andrew Berry told Twin Cities media members last week that Adofo-Mensah was essentially his right-hand man:

"He's done everything. He's done a ton of tape evaluation, he's gone on school calls and school visits, involved in everything from free agency (and) draft meetings. No different than our heads of personnel or scouts. It's an important role because a major part of the role of general manager is talent acquisition and that's a key piece of it. There was no governor on Kwesi in that regard. You push him off to the deep end, and he very quickly learned how to swim."

So, no, it wasn't as if Adofo-Mensah suddenly jumped from front-office intern to being a GM. Give him a little more credit than that.

But I do think some people are skeptical of him simply because he doesn't have the most traditional NFL path.

Not every GM played in the league, joined a front office and climbed the ladder to eventually get a GM job.

GMs have different backgrounds, paths and experiences, Adofo-Mensah included.

Let's all let the Vikings make a few moves first and get through his first offseason before we start assuming the worst.

View photos of new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during his first day as a Viking at the TCO Performance Center on Jan. 26.

Now that we have a new GM, it's time for Kwesi and the Wilfs to get busy with HC selection. I would hope and expect there to be plenty of news on multiple interviews by next week's Mailbag.

Evaluation of the current roster has marginal meaning without a HC and staff to give input on thoughts, schemes and how this roster fits or falls short. This is extremely important with the draft just months away and the Vikings are starting from scratch. Welcome to the land of SKOOOOL, Kwesi!!

— J.D. in Alaska

J.D. is spot-on with his point about the onus now switching to the next head coach.

Allow me to emphasis that point: the head coach is the most important focus of the entire organization right now.

To catch people up on where that search stands, there have been nine confirmed interviews for the head coaching position so far.

I'd also say it's fair to say this upcoming week will be an important one in finding someone for that job, or at least paring down the initial group to a smaller list that could conduct in-person interviews.

Perhaps J.D.'s wish comes true, and that the Vikings have their next HC by the time the next Mailbag is posted.

But with the East-West Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowl on tap this week, plus the HBCU Legacy Bowl set for later in February, the NFL offseason is churning into full gear.

Getting a head coach in here to evaluate the roster, plus start syncing up with Adofo-Mensah's own vision, is absolutely paramount.

View photos of new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during his introductory press conference with the media on Jan. 27 at the TCO Performance Center.

They say this year's QB draft class is not as good as last year's draft class. With that being said, where would Kellen Mond rank with this year's QB class??

— Bob B.

I think Kellen Mond will be our best option moving forward. What are your thoughts?

— D. Davis

I'll start with Bob's question first with the rock-solid answer of: I don't know.

Mond's 2021 draft profile can be found here, and it has him with an overall grade of 6.12 (out of 10), and listed as "good backup who can become a starter."

After one NFL season in which he played just three regular-season snaps and was the third-string QB, that assessment still seems fairly accurate of Mond.

But I have no idea where he stacks up to the 2022 QB class, mostly because I haven't done in-depth on those players yet, and because most draft profiles from analysts are not out yet.

So, while Mond's profile grade was 6.12, I can't compare that to what upcoming quarterbacks are at.

As for the second question, that one is also up in the air. If you missed it, we ran through 2021 position recaps on over the past two weeks, and began with the QB spot a while back.

I happened to write that one and included the future of that position in the pair of questions I had for 2022.

No. 1 … What will the new-look front office think of Kirk Cousins?

And No. 2 … What progression does Mond show in 2022?

The first question likely will be answered before the second, simply because of the timeline of the NFL offseason.

With Cousins entering the final season of his deal — and due to hold a $45 million cap hit — the Vikings have three options with him.

The Vikings could choose to restructure and extend Cousins, which occurred after the 2019 season. Minnesota also could look to potentially trade him and explore other options, such as Mond. Or the Vikings could let him simply play out the final year of his deal and evaluate things a year from now.

Mond, meanwhile, will almost certainly be on the Vikings roster in 2022. But he will need to show more than he did in 2021, which was essentially a redshirt season for him.

Mond took the usual rookie growing pains in OTAs and training camp in 2021, but did show flashes toward the end of the preseason.

How he looked then might need to be a starting point for him in 2022, especially if he wants to vault himself into the conversation for possibly being the Vikings QB at some point in the future.