Vikings

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Is Creeping Closer To Going Full Rams

Photo Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah may never live down his July 2022 USA Today interview. Initially, the big news was that he said: “The one asset where you get nervous about not burning it down is quarterback.”

He added, “We don’t have Tom Brady” and “We don’t have Pat Mahomes.”

“(The team) is more likely to win if you have that quarterback,” Adofo-Mensah posited. “It’s very unlikely to have that quarterback.”

It was hardly groundbreaking, but it reverberated around the league because Kirk Cousins was polarizing. Some fans felt that the Minnesota Vikings finally had their franchise quarterback, while others believed that they couldn’t win a championship with Cousins.

“My wife tells me sometimes to say less,” a reticent Adofo-Mensah offered following the USA Today interview.

But Adofo-Mensah’s words from that story continue to resonate. “You never want to go full Rams,” he cautioned in July 2022, referring to the all-in strategy the Los Angeles Rams used to win the Super Bowl in 2021. He advocated for a more measured approach that allows for multiple chances at the championship. That feels surprisingly relevant now.

Rams general manager Les Snead wore a shirt that said “f— them picks” at LA’s Super Bowl parade. The Rams took Florida State defensive end Jared Verse with the 19th-overall selection this year, breaking a seven-season streak of not taking a player in the first round. Jared Goff (first overall, 2016) was their most recent first-round selection.

Adofo-Mensah may not want to go full Rams, but he has borrowed from their blueprint to build the Vikings. He hired Kevin O’Connell, LA’s offensive coordinator in 2021, as his head coach. O’Connell uses Sean McVay’s offense. He also hired former Rams passing game coordinator Wes Phillips as his OC.

But he didn’t borrow from Snead’s roster-building tactics. Snead traded picks for proven NFL players en route to winning the Lombardi Trophy in 2021. Conversely, Adofo-Mensah traded down in the 2022 draft to acquire more draft capital.

He could have taken Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis or Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, who would have filled immediate needs, with pick No. 12 in 2022. Instead, he traded his first-rounder to the Detroit Lions. His first five picks were Lewis Cine (32nd overall), Andrew Booth (44), Ed Ingram (59), Brian Asamoah (66), and Akayleb Evans (118).

Cine fractured his leg in Week 4 of his rookie season, and he has only played ten defensive snaps in two years. Booth has only made two starts. Ingram has made 32 career starts but has been inconsistent at guard. Asamoah broke out late in his rookie season. However, Brian Flores played undrafted linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. over him last year. Evans made 15 starts last year, but undrafted corner Jaylin Williams occasionally played over him last season.

The 2022 draft has largely been a bust, but the Vikings seemed to do better in 2023 when they used their first-round pick on Jordan Addison (No. 23) and waited until 102nd overall to pick again. They doubled down on that strategy this year, trading their second-rounder (No. 42), sixth-rounder (No. 188), and their second-round pick in 2025 to the Houston Texans for pick 23 and a seventh-round selection (No. 232).

Minnesota entered the draft with picks 11 and 23, but they traded pick 11, a fourth-round pick (No. 129), and a fifth-rounder (No. 157) to the New York Jets for pick 10 and a seventh-rounder (No. 203) to take J.J. McCarthy. They also traded picks 23 and 167 and their third- and fourth-round picks in 2025 to take Dallas Turner.

Adofo-Mensah may not have gone “full Rams,” but what he did on draft night is unprecedented in Minnesota. McCarthy is the highest-drafted quarterback in franchise history, and the Vikings haven’t taken an edge rusher since Erasmus James in 2005. Adofo-Mensah may not have been able to trade up for Drake Maye at No. 3 or pry Justin Herbert away from the Los Angeles Chargers. But he has a potential franchise quarterback and got an edge rusher at value.

“We’re always talking about minimizing regret,” Adofo-Mensah said. “And you know, if you’re sitting on your couch one day and you’re like, ‘That extra fifth,’ or whatever it was, and you could have had a chance at a guy that you think has traits and could be special. You’re never going to care about that fifth-round pick, and there’s ways of getting it back.

“Obviously, I’m a spreadsheet and calculator guy myself, but sometimes you’ve gotta step out from there. Take your Clark Kent glasses off and just have a championship mindset and swing for a great player.”

Adofo-Mensah brought things full circle in this draft. The Vikings couldn’t get Caleb Williams, the closest player to Mahomes in this draft, because the Chicago Bears had the No. 1 pick. They couldn’t move up for Maye, whom Colin Cowherd compared to Herbert, and Minnesota couldn’t get the Chargers to trade them Herbert. So they ended up with McCarthy, whom Cowherd compared to Alex Smith.

With all their moves, the Vikings only have three picks next year: one first and two fifth-rounders. They also didn’t make any Day 2 picks this year. Adofo-Mensah may not have gone “full Rams,” but he’s all in. Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell have tied their fates to McCarthy and likely won’t be busy during the draft next year. Whether they regret that is to be determined.

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