In 439 Days, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Completely Remodeled the Vikings CB Room

A Look at the Jets in Week 13
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

On January 26, 2022, the Vikings hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to be the new GM. On April 10, 2023, the Arizona Cardinals signed Kris Boyd. A total of 439 days separate those two dates.

Why is that important? Well, that’s how long it took for the team’s new leadership group to completely flip over the Vikings’ corner position. Right now, the team doesn’t have any corners on their roster who were brought in by the former regime. Adofo-Mensah completely changed the position in a bit more than a year.

Adofo-Mensah Completely Changed the Corner Position

Moving on from Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer signalled the team wanted to go in a new direction. That’s the baseline assumption whenever such a dramatic decision is made. What’s somewhat stunning, though, if how different things look at corner.

Mike Zimmer Vikings Head Coach
May 26, 2021; Eagan, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Zim’s specialty was (and is) with corners. He turned Xavier Rhodes into an All Pro, if only for a short time. He was instrumental in bringing Terrence Newman, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hughes, Cameron Dantzler, and Patrick Peterson to town (among others).

There was a time when Spielman quipped that his wife even joked about the GM not drafting another first-round corner. In Spielman’s retelling, his bride even threatens his welcome at their residence: “she said, ‘If you draft another corner, don’t come home. You can just stay at the office.'”

For years, corner was a top priority. None of those players are still employed by the Vikings.

Take a look at the current depth chart at corner:

CB1: Byron Murphy
CB2: Akayleb Evans
CB3: Andrew Booth Jr.
CB4: Mekhi Blackmon
CB5: Jay Ward
CB6: Joejuan Williams
CB7: Tay Gowan
CB8: Kalon Barnes
CB9: C.J. Coldon
CB10: NaJee Thompson
CB11: Jaylin Williams
CB12: John Reid

Every single one of those players were added in either 2022 or 2023. When Boyd officially signed with the Cards, the chance of some sort of continuity with the Spielman/Zimmer era ended.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Nov 6, 2022; Phoenix, Ariz., United States; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (7) breaks up a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) during the second quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow/Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

Somewhat quietly, the roster has been undergoing a pretty major overhaul. There are still plenty of players – Kirk Cousins, C.J. Ham, Harrison Smith, Christian Darrisaw, Garrett Bradbury, Danielle Hunter, etc. – who have bridged the divide between the two leadership groups. The fact that none exist at corner is relatively stunning.

Apart from QB, corner may be the NFL’s most important position. Anyone within earshot could hear Zimmer preach about the importance of continually keeping the pantry well-stocked with talented CBs. A bit more than a year after his departure, Zimmer’s work at the position has been completely undone.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer waves to the crowd after the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In fairness, a lot of the corners were already gone by the time Adofo-Mensah took power. The carryover included Peterson, Dantzler, and Boyd. During the offseason, all three found new teams (the Steelers, Commanders, and Cardinals).

By the time next offseason arrives, the roster will continue to look much different from the one Spielman and Zimmer built. More and more, Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell are building things in their own image. Let’s hope the new approach results in records that continue to resemble the one from the 2022 season.