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'No Track Record' for Adofo-Mensah & O'Connell Intrigues NFL Experts

New Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell don't yet have reputations in their current roles.

That just makes this time of year more fun.

Former Vikings linebacker and Vikings Radio Network sideline reporter Ben Leber caught up with NFL Network's Tom Pelissero on Tuesday at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, and the two discussed what fans can expect from Minnesota's new leadership.

Pelissero suggested that Adofo-Mensah's recent time in Cleveland under Browns General Manager Andrew Berry "would indicate, in many cases, they're going to be patient" in the upcoming free agency period.

"But who knows? That's kind of the fun of [this situation] – you've got two guys who have no track record, in terms of being in leadership roles," Pelissero said. "You don't know how they're going to do it. Because as much as you go, 'Well, New England guys do things like [Patriots Head Coach] Bill Belichick,' to an extent that's true, but Kwesi's been in San Francisco, he's been in Cleveland. Is he going to do things exactly like Andrew Berry or exactly like [49ers General Manager] John Lynch or [former 49ers GM] Trent Baalke? Probably not. So we'll see how he plays this thing out."

Pelissero has enjoyed forming working relationships with Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell and told Leber they're both intelligent and fun.

Oh, and they're also tall.

"It's gotta be the tallest head coach/general manager combo in the NFL," Pelissero quipped of the 6-foot-4 Adofo-Mensah and 6-5 O'Connell.

(Pelissero, by the way, is "5-11 on my driver's license, so really 5-10.")

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah shares a familiarity with the new duo in Minnesota.

View photos at Head Coach Kevin O'Connell at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Jeremiah told Vikings Entertainment Network's Gabe Henderson Wednesday that a fresh start under O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah creates energy within the organization, from the top down.

"These are incredibly smart guys. I've known Kevin for a long time, and he's just a great dude," Jeremiah said, echoing Pelissero. "These guys are going to able to identify and relate to these players; they're going to know – especially coming off a Super Bowl win in Kevin's case – what works.

"And believe in your eyes. Trust your eyes of how you build a football team," he added. "I think that energy is going to be contagious within that building."

Will Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell be the next Les Snead and Sean McVay combo? Brett Veach and Andy Reid combo? John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan?

CBS Sports' Charles Davis said that's all part of the intrigue.

"It excites me from the outside looking in because I can't wait to see what they do," said Davis, adding that Vikings fans also should be excited.

"Fresh eyes, fresh approach. How are we going to do things?" Davis told Leber. "And the biggest thing is watching their collaboration. Because they have to have a shared vision on what the roster ultimately needs to look like. You can't be Kevin O'Connell saying, 'I want to play like this,' and Kwesi drafting guys that don't play like that. 'Well, I kind of see it that way.' Watching those collaborations, that's been the best we've seen … The best ones are that GM and head coach [who are on the same page]."

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks expects to see that alliance between the Vikings new brass.

Brooks, who brings perspective not only as a longtime media member within the league but also as a former NFL player, pointed out that Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell are already marrying their respective philosophies. Each has spoken multiple times about his alignment with the other's views.

"You would like to think it's going to be a collaborative effort where the general manager and the head coach get on the same page, and they begin to make decisions to build the ideal team as they see fit," Brooks told Henderson.

According to Brooks, the leadership's yet-to-be-written track record impacts the players, as well.

"There are no free lunches, no passes. Because now you have new evaluators coming in, they look at all the tape from last year, they're trying to figure out who fits in the new scheme, which guys do they view as core players," Brooks explained. "Ultimately, yeah, there's going to be some change, so everybody is on high alert. And it becomes real for everybody when you begin to bring in free agents and draft picks. Because those guys are now 'the other guys.' They're the new guys.

"Everyone has to kind of raise their energy level, everybody has to be ready to perform at a high level in OTAs and offseason workouts and those things," Brooks added.

View photos of current Vikings players during their time at the NFL Scouting Combine over the years.

Brooks' point about players needing to prove their fit under a new regime is certainly true.

It's important to remember in tandem, though, that Vikings ownership does not view this as a rebuild; similarly, Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell have emphasized the talent of Minnesota's existing roster.

Jeremiah, who also works as a radio analyst for the Chargers, saw that talent in Week 10.

"There's a lot of good pieces on that Vikings team. … I'm excited," Jeremiah said.

"I think they're kind of laying in the weeds right now – I don't think people are thinking or focusing much on the Minnesota Vikings," he added. "I think they've got some dynamic players, and I think they just added a dynamic pair to lead them."

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