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Trading Jefferson Not Crossing Adofo-Mensah's Mind; O'Connell Addresses Vikings RB Room & More at NFL Combine

When it comes to Justin Jefferson, the Vikings are focused on one outcome: extending the phenom receiver to keep him in Purple.

Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah spoke to media members Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine and was asked if trading Jefferson is on the table.

Adofo-Mensah didn't hesitate.

"That is not something that's once crossed my mind," he said from Indianapolis. "You've got a 'blue' player, a 'blue' person, you try to keep as many of those as you can."

'Blue' refers to "blue chip," the premier color in a coding system often used by personnel departments to group players.

Jefferson, whom the Vikings selected 22nd overall in 2020, recently finished his fourth season in Minnesota – and fourth straight of surpassing the 1,000 receiving yard mark. His 68 catches for 1,074 yards and five touchdowns last season are especially impressive considering he missed seven games due to a hamstring injury.

Adofo-Mensah said he had "a lot of great dialogue" last offseason.

"I think people forget, deals rarely happen after three years, and there's a reason. Two years left, there's uncertainty that somebody's gotta hold. Either the club's gotta hold or the player's gotta hold," he explained. "There's new money, old money. How do you look at contracts? Those are very hard conversations to have, so a lot of them don't get done. We got unbelievably close.

"We've said it, and we'll continue to say it – we think he's the best wide receiver in the league and should be compensated as such," Adofo-Mensah continued. "We think he's one of the best non-quarterbacks in the league. I think he should be compensated as such. So we'll continue to have those dialogues, those conversations.

"I promised them, and I will continue to promise them, that I will not talk about our negotiations," he added. "I think this job should be done with integrity. So there's a lot of stuff that I hear that's completely false; but I can't get up here and tell you what's not true or what's not false, because that's not how I promised to do this job. But I will tell you we're excited to have him and to continue having those conversations, because he's someone we want around for a long time."

Adofo-Mensah also addressed the contract situations of outside linebacker Danielle Hunter and quarterback Kirk Cousins, both of whom are set to become free agents at the start of the new league year.

According to Adofo-Mensah, conversations with Cousins' and Hunter's representatives are ongoing.

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

Below are five additional takeaways from podium sessions with Adofo-Mensah and Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell.

  1. Checking in on the Vikings running backs room

O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah each were asked their thoughts of Minnesota's running backs room.

Last season, the Vikings totaled 1,553 yards on the ground but had just seven rushing touchdowns. For reference, Minnesota tallied 18 rushing touchdowns during the 2023 campaign.

O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah both pointed to Ty Chandler's strong finish to the season and expectation of continued growth as he enters season three.

"I thought Alex [Mattison] did some good things in our system and ran hard, ran physical," O'Connell said. "As you go through the cut-up evaluation process after the season, you can really kind of gauge things that worked well [and] things that didn't. Things you need to improve on. Things that I can do better as a coach. But then you see some of the individual performances that maybe don't always jump out on the stat sheet, but it was a critical play here and there – and then we've got some young players in the room, as well.

"It's always a position that I think whether free agency or the draft, you're looking to continue to infuse talent and different skill sets into that room," O'Connell continued. "But [we] feel good about what those guys were able to do and, more importantly, hopefully what we can build on from there. Specifically with Ty toward the end of the season, I thought seeing him really come on there and really start to assert himself was a real positive for our team."

  1. What's the deal with cognitive testing?

Over the past few years, there's been much buzz about cognitive testing for players.

The Wonderlic Test has long been used to evaluate athletes' processing and problem-solving skills. But most recently there's been focus on S2, a pre-draft cognition test that has been looked at for testing a quarterback's "mental capacity."

But how much are these aspects weighed in the pre-draft process?

Adofo-Mensah noted the "what" (how a player performs or reacts during the game) and the "why" (what informs or motivates each decision).

"The first thing is the 'what.' Always start there. And if the what and the why don't match, that's a cause to maybe ask some more questions," he explained. "So, I don't want to sit there and say that test versus any other test is good or bad. I love that different people in the league are trying to provide different data information for us to use.

"It's unfortunate, also, [some test results] get out. That should never get out," Adofo-Mensah added. "Those are private things the players trust us with, and I know personally, that's not something we would ever let out. It's also not something we use to say 'yes' or 'no.' It's something [where] we have a conversation and maybe player development goes differently based on what we learned. So that's how we treat it."

  1. Desired QB traits

It remains to be seen with the Vikings will do at quarterback moving forward.

Options, of course, include re-signing Cousins, signing a free agent, drafting a rookie or any combination of the three. O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah spoke highly of Cousins.

Having been a former NFL quarterback himself, O'Connell was asked what traits in the position he prioritizes.

"It's a guy that's accurate. A guy that can process information – and maybe that's where it's a little different trying to figure out what that ceiling is from that standpoint," he said. "But a naturally accurate guy. You know, [a guy who] could walk in here right now and throw the football anywhere they want in this room, and it just makes sense to him when they pick up that football."

O'Connell added "leadership traits" like being smart, tough and accountable.

"There's so much that goes into it," he said. "I think there's a lot of great examples of guys coming into our league with some of those foundational points and then adding the rest of them to their skill set to become the complete player that they are.

"I think we're always going to want to try to create what is the, you know, 'what's the stencil?' What does that look like?' So it becomes easier to evaluate," O'Connell continued. "One of the reasons why I love evaluating the quarterback position is because it's unique and it's dynamic, and it's your own way of really looking at it because you've got to be the one to bring them in and believe in them."

  1. High number of transfer QBs

In the 2024 NFL Draft class, several of the top quarterbacks have played at two colleges after going through the transfer portal. For instance, Caleb Williams played at Oklahoma before transferring to USC, Jayden Daniels first went to Arizona State and then LSU; and Michael Penix, Jr., played at Indiana before heading to Washington.

O'Connell fielded a question about whether or not a quarterback having transferred impacts their draft stock.

He doesn't believe so.

"The rules are so different now. Maybe when I came out, in previous years before the rules being what they are now in college football, you would really want to evaluate that, but I think each individual player now, they need to be kind of evaluated and judged on their own," O'Connell said.

View the best touchdown photos of Vikings players during the 2023-24 season.

  1. Adding DL coach Marcus Dixon

The Vikings earlier this month hired Marcus Dixon as their defensive line coach.

Though Dixon is a new face on Minnesota's coaching staff, he's quite familiar with O'Connell and other assistant coaches, including Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips.

Dixon spent the past two seasons (2022-23) as the Denver Broncos defensive line coach and brings six years of collegiate and professional coaching experience to the Vikings. He entered the NFL coaching ranks with the Rams in 2021 as assistant defensive line coach, where he joined a staff that included O'Connell as the offensive coordinator.

O'Connell also knows Dixon from their playing days, when the two teamed together with the New York Jets in 2010 and part of 2011, and believes he'll be an excellent asset under Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores.

"Marcus was always somebody I was so excited to talk about [as a potential member of my staff]. Not only from my time with him as a teammate but then getting to be around him for that year we won the Super Bowl in L.A.," O'Connell said. "He's been around some great coaches throughout his journey. And then getting to do it on his own and running his own room now for a couple years. I was really excited to get a chance to talk to Marcus, and I couldn't be more thrilled about that hire for our team and for Coach Flo' and our defense."