Kwesi Adofo-Mensah & Co Quickly Becoming NFL Draft Smokescreen Artists
The 2023 NFL Draft is nearly upon us. It’s been a long wait, but on Thursday night, Roger Goodell will walk to the podium and put the Carolina Panthers on the clock. What will happen after that is anybody’s guess… which is perfect, since that’s what draft season is all about. Guessing.
What will Vikings do?
But there may not be a team in this year’s draft who is shrouded in more mystery entering this week than the Minnesota Vikings. Nobody has any idea what they are going to do, where they will end up picking in the first round (if at all) or who they are targeting.
That was proven true on Sunday when NFL draft insider/expert (maybe), Jaime Eisner (The Draft Network), mocked Kentucky QB, Will Levis, to the Vikings at the #2 overall pick, after a blockbuster trade moves them up 21 spots from pick #23.
In his explanation, Eisner didn’t shy away from what would be an absolute shocker of a draft-day trade. He claims to be hearing a lot of chatter from his sources that this is a move Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could actually make. That’s how much he believes they like Levis.
2. Minnesota Vikings (via HOU) Will Levis QB, Kentucky
Surprise! You may have seen the betting odds change for the No. 2 overall pick on Saturday, with Will Levis becoming the odds-on favorite. But I don’t think that’s because the Texans are taking him. I’ve heard loud rumblings that Minnesota is very active in trying to trade up for a quarterback and I think they will pull off a blockbuster here. Levis will succeed Kirk Cousins after the Vikings chose not to extend the latter beyond this season. There is a major disconnect between how fans and those inside the NFL view Will Levis. Don’t get me wrong, there are several people in the NFL who are uninterested in drafting Levis this high, but there are plenty who believe he is absolutely worth the cost with the upside to be the best passer in the class when it’s all said and done.Jaime Eisner – The Draft Network
Let’s pump the breaks for a moment. Jaime Eisner isn’t a well-known NFL insider. When he wrote this piece, he had around 5,000 followers on Twitter. That doesn’t mean he’s making up the “loud rumblings” he says he is hearing or that his steam isn’t real but these things are worth noting.
Eisner isn’t the only person who thinks the Vikings might trade up, though. Star Tribune beat writer, Ben Goessling, released his final 7-round (Vikings specific) mock draft where he has Kwesi trading up 12 slots to pick 11 and drafting Florida QB, Anthony Richardson.
Here’s the thing, though. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah didn’t draft one player from any of the Vikings’ original draft slots one year ago. The newish GM loves to wheel and deal throughout the draft. It will be difficult to do that this weekend, or fill any of the many holes on the team’s roster, if they trade up in the first round to acquire a quarterback. Remember, the Vikings currently own just FIVE total picks in 2023. They’d surely lose at least one or two more if they trade into or near the top 10, on Thursday night, to draft a QB.
Jordan Reid, a Vikings fan and ESPN draft insider/expert, went on Darren Wolfson’s (SKOR North, KSTP) “The Scoop” podcast and dove deep on that subject. He believes there is a high likelihood Kwesi trades back from 23 to gain the type of draft capital he will need to move around freely on Friday and Saturday.
“I would be really surprised if they traded up. I think they’re gonna trade back. If I had to guess, I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up with two 2nd round draft picks. I think that may be the goal for them. But like you said, it takes two to tango. Pittsburgh (pick 32), at the front end of the second round. And also Houston (pick 33). Both of those selections at the top of the 2nd round, I would keep an eye on that.”Jordan Reid – The Scoop (w/Darren Wolfson)
Kwesi’s smokescreen game is strong
Maybe the relatively unknown Jaime Eisner and his sources end up being more accurate than what big -timer Jordan Reid is hearing (probably not). It doesn’t matter. That’s not the point of this blog. Nobody has any idea what the Vikings will do this week. And that’s not by accident.
In just his second year running the Vikings’ draft, it’s clear Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and his front office is already learning to master the NFL art of smokescreens on draft week. It seems to me that the Vikings are calling teams who may make logical trade fits early in the 1st round, should they decide to move up and draft their quarterback of the future in blockbuster fashion.
Making those kinds of calls on a regular enough basis gets people in the league talking. In other words, those types of phone calls work twofold. Kwesi & Co gauge the market, just in case an opportunity to move up presents itself, while also sending mixed signals across the league on what they really want to accomplish, come draft night. Smart.
Of course, sending effective smoke screens doesn’t equate to completing a successful draft. Kwesi still has a lot to prove on that front.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan