June 18, 2024

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Isn’t Giving Up on the Vikings’ 2022 Draft Class

Adofo-Mensah’s first draft class looks like a flop, but he’s not giving up yet.

Through two seasons, the Vikings’ 2022 draft class — their first under GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah — looks like a massive flop. They took ten players that year, including four in the top 70, and all they’ve really gotten is a mediocre guard and an inconsistent cornerback. But Adofo-Mensah isn’t giving up on the class just yet.

The Vikings held the 12th pick in that draft. Instead of taking someone like Jordan Davis or Kyle Hamilton or Trent McDuffie in that spot, they traded back to 32nd and added another premium pick in the process. They selected three defensive players among their four picks from 32 to 66, hoping to bolster their core on that side of the ball. Instead, all three spent their second NFL seasons buried on the depth chart under new coordinator Brian Flores.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah: What Analytics Suggest He'll Do, And What They Can't  Predict - Daily Norseman

First-rounder Lewis Cine has played a grand total of ten defensive snaps in his career. He did suffer a catastrophic leg injury as a rookie, but he was a healthy scratch for most of this year as the Vikings’ fifth safety behind Theo Jackson (a sixth-rounder in the same draft). Second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr. has just two career starts while battling various injuries. Third-rounder Brian Asamoah II was a breakout candidate this year, but he played all of 36 defensive snaps while falling behind players like Ivan Pace Jr., Troy Dye, and Anthony Barr on the depth chart at linebacker.

Asked about that class this week, Adofo-Mensah understandably preached patience.

“When you talk about young players, the path isn’t always linear, right? First and foremost, you know that when you study development curves, nobody is peaking in year one, that’s not how it happens,” he said. “Also, you know that players — sometimes, it’s year three, five, whatever it is, for different situations and where it’s hard is when you have a player that you have some belief that they could be something in the future, if you bring in a veteran who’s probably better today, you limit that potential for ever seeing it, so it’s that go-between which is difficult.”

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jake Bobo (19) runs the ball in for a touchdown past Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) during the second half at Lumen Field.

As Adofo-Mensah mentions, it’s a tough situation for the Vikings when young players don’t quickly show signs of progress. Even if they believe guys like Cine and Booth and Asamoah still have some upside, the coaching staff isn’t going to put them out there for development reasons when they’re trying to win games. Cine, for example, happened to be in a loaded safety room this year behind Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum, Josh Metellus, and Jackson. It’s also true that none of the 2022 players were drafted to fit Flores’ defense, but you’d like your top picks to be fairly scheme-proof.

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