Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah entered his first NFL draft at GM headquarters with a plan to trade the No. 12 pick and accumulate more assets. He was pretty open that that was the plan.
Adofo-Mensah and company did what they set out to do, sending picks No. 12 and 46 to the Lions for picks 32, 34 and 66. It was the first in a league of six trades that the Vikings made it on all three days of the draft. They were happy with the deal they made and the players they ended up with, and Lions’ controversial trade was backed by results-based charts.
The problem, at least in the eyes of some, is that Adofo-Mensah hasn’t performed well in the trade based on the traditional charts. These charts, notably Jimmy Johnson’s version that has been around forever, assign a point value to each choice and have long been used to define the trading market.
An anonymous NFL executive brought up an interesting point in a recent story by Mike Sando of The Athletic: because Adofo-Mensah did not respect the charts in the trade with the Lions, it could have sent the message that it is acceptable for other GMs to send low offers in the future.
“I understand that in his mind you’re comparing and contrasting the two scenarios and in his mind he liked the other scenario better,” one executive said. “But you’re setting a precedent for future trades. They already know you’re an analytics guy, so you’re probably going to want to trade, and then with your first trade, you’re moving quite a ways away from the traditional points system, so that defines Maybe our first offer will always be lower because we know it’s Kwesi and he’ll want to lower.
An executive who spoke to Sando liked the trade for Minnesota, based on the idea that players drafted in the 12-66 range aren’t all that different.
“Looking at the picks in isolation and assigning a dollar value to each one, I have the Detroit-Minnesota trade as a win for the Vikings because my curve is pretty flat and the Vikings got that third round pick” , one said the executive. “Don’t get me wrong, I love Jameson Williams, but it’s one of those things where you never know about the player.”
But again, the problem some had with Adofo-Mensah’s big move was the potential precedent created by not sticking to the established market.
“Analytics tell you that the draft pick has value and teams tend to underestimate the value of later picks while overestimating the value of higher picks,” one executive said. “So if you make a trade like Kwesi did, the value was accurate, but the problem is you missed the trade market because you needed to get more. Even if it was the right value, you left money on the table.
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According to Sando, the NFL is “still trying to pick up the scent of Adofo-Mensah’s first draft as general manager.”
“It looked like they were just trading to trade,” one executive said. “They have choices. Maybe it worked. I do not know. Interesting situation.
One evaluator, Sando, thought the Vikings had met some of the picks they made, while another manager was surprised at the 12-dropping given the consensus view there was a drop in talent after the first 14-16 players.
“My theory is that they didn’t think about the corner, [Trent] McDuffie, was worth the 12th pick,” one reviewer said. “If they thought it was a deep draft and it [Andrew] Booth’s child and [Akayleb] Evans can play, so the trade works for Minnesota.
I recommend checking Sando’s full articlewho has this sort of anonymous league preview of the 32-team drafts.
A similar story from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler supports the idea that the belief around the league was that Adofo-Mensah was going to trade no matter what.
A first-time GM eschewing his first draft pick for the right to drop 20 spots might come as a surprise, but for those familiar with Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, it was a telegraphed decision. “He trades. Guarantee it,” said an AFC scout. “It’s all about value and volume.”
Another note from Fowler’s article: Oklahoma linebacker Brian Asamoah II, whom the Vikings got with the No. 66 overall pick, “was consistently mentioned among scouts as an underrated player in the draft process”.
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