So, for those who aren't too familiar with Adofo-Mensah: What's he all about?
For starters, Adofo-Mensah doesn't have a brother who played in the NFL like former Vikings GM Rick Spielman, but he is a product of the age of analytics and has an Ivy League degree in economics from Princeton, as well as a master's in economics from Stanford.
Let it be known: Adofo-Mensah is a smart man – and he's on a fast track.
The 40-year-old from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, spent the past two seasons as the vice president of football operations with the Cleveland Browns. He'd previously spent 2013 to 2019 with the San Francisco 49ers, first as a manager of football research and development and later the director of the same department.
That's six years in research in development, two years as a VP, and now he's the head honcho for a team that has never won the Super Bowl and has played second fiddle to the Packers in the NFC North for the majority of the past 30 years. Oh, and lest we forget, he was a trader and portfolio manager on Wall Street before working in the NFL.
No pressure, Mr. Economics.
One way or another, it seems like Adofo-Mensah is going to use analytics to heavily influence decisions. Speaking in September, Adofo-Mensah explained how he incorporates advanced stats into football. And specifically into how he grades a quarterback's ability to throw short, medium and deep passes.
"[Analytics] is about evolution, not revolution," Adofo-Mensah said, via the Browns' website. "We take this framework that has been used for years, and we're just applying it to different things. We're creating decision rules, and we're determining how those decision rules will help us in the future.
"Hope is not a strategy. There are lots of things that can occur in the future, and it's our job and obligation to study them, understand the risks and choose a course of action that will put us in a good situation no matter what happens."
What this means for Kirk Cousins
From an advanced statistical view, Cousins is very good throwing intermediate and deep passes, but only when he's kept clean. This season, he completed just 45.9% of his attempts when under pressure and PFF graded him at 52.1 (he's at 94.7 when kept clean), which essentially means he turns into Sam Darnold when he's feeling heat.
Pressure is the key to stopping an immobile quarterbacks. Just ask Tom Brady, who was feeling Aaron Donald's breath all day during Sunday's playoff loss to the Rams. Like Cousins, Brady was elite when kept clean but had his PFF offensive grade drop to 49 when under pressure this season.
What Adofo-Mensah will do with Cousins is the million-dollar question. But he's likely going to be exactly what the Vikings want him to be: a collaborator. Here's what he said about himself and decision-making in a 2020 interview with the Browns.
"Again, I will pick every person's brain. You find some amazing knowledge from everywhere in this league. I would say that is where my evaluation base comes from. Second, my job is not necessarily going to be to say that this guy is a necessarily more talented player. We have other people to do that in this building. My job is going to be another person who knows enough about everybody's point of view to come together and make a good decision. That is where I see my role, and that is where I see a lot of my value. I have my perspective and I will bring that to the table, but I also have an appreciation for everybody else's perspective, not only from my time in San Francisco but also my time as a trader to be honest. There are a lot of people who win a lot of different ways, and you come to appreciate that. At the end of the day, you are just trying to make better decisions. That is kind of the basis of where I will approach this job from."
Cleveland draft picks with Adofo-Mensah on staff
How have Cleveland draft picks turned out in two years with Adofo-Mensah on the staff? For starters, those were GM Andrew Berry's picks, so it's hard to judge Adofo-Mensah here. But Cleveland did take tackle Jedrick Wills 10th overall in 2020 and he was ranked 57th out of 79 tackles as a rookie and was the 52nd out of 83 tackles this season, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).
The jury is still out on safety Grant Delpit, who the Browns took in the second round in 2020. He missed his rookie season with an injury and was solid this season, ranking 49th out of 94 safeties in the NFL, per PFF. 2020 third-round pick Jordan Elliott is rated by PFF as one of the worst interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
The 2021 draft class for Cleveland looks great based on their first two picks:
- Gregory Newsome, CB – 34th of 122 cornerbacks, per PFF
- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB – 9th of 87 linebackers, per PFF
And the future is yet to be known for third-round pick Anthony Schwartz, the wide receiver from Auburn who has blazing speed (he ran a 4.26-second 40 at his pro day). Adofo-Mensah raved about Schwartz's ability to change the dynamics on the field, similar to how the Chiefs utilize Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman.
"We like to think about the wide receiver position in terms of dimensions — thematically what does he add to the room? What does he add to the group?" Adofo-Mensah said after the Browns took Schwartz. "We love the vertical presence and he is not your typical track guy. He has a run after catch mindset, he wants to finish plays, and you do not always see that from guys like that. We love the dimensions he brings to the room, the competition he brings to that room."
Speed. Speed. Speed. If his comments about Schwartz and adding the deep dimension are any indication of what he'll bring to Minnesota, it should come as no surprise if the Vikings aim for speedy receivers in the draft.
Adofo-Mensah was lured to Cleveland by Berry, who then hired Kevin Stefanski from the Vikings. That GM-head coach duo, along with Adofo-Mensah, helped form what is now known as the most analytically advanced organization in the NFL, according to an October ESPN story.