Kwesi Needs Trade Back to Pay Off, Lewis Cine Pick to Hit

Original Photo: Andrew Krammer - Star Tribune

The 2022 NFL Draft started poorly if you were a Minnesota Vikings fan hoping to land a high-end cornerback in the first round. But after Sauce Gardner and Stingley Jr. went in the first four picks, the board fell right into Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s lap at pick 12. Many draft analysts thought (S) Kyle Hamilton – Notre Dame and (WR) Jameson Williams – Alabama were top-5 talents in this class and wouldn’t be available when the Vikings’ pick rolled around.

But Kyle Hamilton plays an unattractive position, from a top-10 pick standpoint. Jameson Williams tore his ACL during the National Championship and will probably miss the start of this upcoming season. But if either guy fell outside the top-10, they were unanimously seen as an incredible value. Had Kwesi stayed put at pick 12 and pulled the trigger on either player, he would’ve been lauded by fans and media. A-type grades and slaps on the back would’ve flooded in on Friday morning.

The Trade Back

Instead, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the Minnesota Vikings traded back. It wasn’t the trade back that took Vikings nation by surprise. It was who they traded with, and how far back they were willing to fall, that pissed off and emptied purple and gold draft parties across the country. The Vikings didn’t target the Saints’ pick at 16 or the Steelers’ at 20. No, Kwesi swapped 1st rounders with the Detroit Lions, dropping the Vikings twenty spots, from pick 12 to pick 32. They also swapped 2nd round picks and gained a 3rd. Some liked the trade… others did not.

The Lions proceeded to draft the aforementioned wide receiver, Jameson Williams, with the Vikings’ original pick. That means one of the best talents in the draft will now play the first 4-5 years of his career with a division rival. Kyle Hamilton went two picks later to the Baltimore Ravens, at no. 14 overall. As expected, both teams are receiving high praise for their moves this morning.

Vikings Draft (S) Lewis Cine – Georgia

Two hours later, after the entire draft party at US Bank Stadium had cleared out and KFAN personalities were left dishing out draft takes inside the biggest, emptiest radio studio of their careers, the Minnesota Vikings selected Georgia safety, Lewis Cine.

The Georgia Bulldogs had, far and away, the best 2022 defense in the nation and Cine lead the team in tackles. He loves to hit and was reportedly the glue that held Georgia’s elite defense together.

Does that mean he isn’t talented or won’t end up being a great pick? Of course not. We have no idea how good Lewis Cine will be. Nor do we know what Kyle Hamilton, Lewis Cine or pick 34 will be after one, two or three seasons. But Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be judged on a much harsher scale as time ticks on because of his bold trade back.

Kwesi Goes Gambling

Sticking at pick 12 and drafting one of the unanimous top talents still available was the safe play for a rookie general manager. Trading back makes fans mad because of the hype that builds as your team gets closer to going on the clock. Trading back 20 spots is dear-rookie draft suicide. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is betting on himself and the Vikings’ scouting staff being smarter than, not just draft experts who cover the event and this league, but every other team and front office across the NFL.

If Lewis Cine turns out to be a really good safety and fits in perfectly next to Harrison Smith, then none of that will matter. Should Kwesi hit on pick 34 later tonight, he’ll look like a genius to everyone mentioned above. And what happens with Hamilton and Williams’ careers matters too.

But if Lewis Cine is a bust, Kwesi is setting himself up to look like an idiot. And should Hamilton become a 10-year pro bowler like many think he will or Jameson Williams turn into the next Megatron in Detroit, this draft will be on the same level of “laughable” as 2004 (Kenechi Udeze) and 2016 (Laquon Treadwell). Maybe even the legendary disaster drafts of 2005 (Troy Williamson, Erasmus James) and 2011 (Christian Ponder).

Big Balls Kwesi

If nothing else, Kwesi showed us the size of his testicles with this move. And if you trust some of the analysis out there on (S) Lewis Cine, he very well might be. Cine is one of the most athletic players in the draft. A physical monster who runs a sub 4.40, 40-yard dash and welcomes contact. Hopefully he and others are right and this gamble pays off. If not, it’ll be a brutal start to Kwesi’s career and nobody is going to forget about it.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan