The Skol Debate: The Best Draft Trade of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Career

Vikings Trade Down from No. 87
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah during the NFL combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Quite often, the focus rests on the negative. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah isn’t perfect, so there can be some debate about the worst trade of his still-young career as a GM.

But then the basic reality is that Minnesota’s top decision maker has done plenty of good things, as well. Sensibly enough, we can similarly ask: what has been Adofo-Mensah’s best trade? The man has pulled off twenty, so let’s shrink things down to just the draft. At that point, we cut things in half, dropping down to ten trades.

NFL: Combine
Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah speaks during a press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Shrinking things down a bit further would involve eliminating the recent move to snag No. 23 from the Texans. After all, we don’t yet know how Adofo-Mensah is going to use that added 1st.

The end result is a debate between the usual combatants — Josh Frey & K. Joudry — each picking a specific trade as their contender for the best one of the GM’s career. Usually, we offer a brief word identifying the specific angle to the debate, but this one is specific enough that we’ll leave something to mystery.

Read on to see the case for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s best trade.

The Best Trade of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Career

KJ: Over these past couple of years, much has been made of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s trade habits. Maybe unsurprisingly, the former stock trader has proven to be quite adept at pulling off NFL trades. 

However, that mere observation misses something, doesn’t it? Simply putting together a trade isn’t altogether difficult. More challenging is winning a trade. To that end, Joshua, we ask: what is Adofo-Mensah’s best draft trade? 

Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine (6) performs a drill at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The man jumped into the captain’s chair in early 2022. The 2022 NFL Draft resulted in six trades whereas the 2023 NFL Draft resulted in a trio of trades. So, we can step back and assess a total of nine (notably, we’re excluding the recent deal with the Texans to go get pick No. 23). 

With the preamble out of the way, how are you looking at things, Mr. Frey? Any contenders in mind for the GM’s best? Full disclosure: I am going to be very surprised if you say Lewis Cine/Jameson Williams. 

JF: Obviously, it’s still very early to be saying that Adofo-Mensah has “won” or “lost” trades at this point, particularly those that have taken place during the draft weekend over the past 24 months. 

After combing over each of Adofo-Mensah’s 20 trades throughout his stint as GM, it becomes even tougher to say when a number of these trades have involved exclusively Day 3 draft picks. 

As a result, I’m going to end up doing a bit of projection with my pick for Adofo-Mensah’s best trade. 

That trade occurred during the 2023 NFL Draft when the Vikings sent Nos. 158 and 211 to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for No. 141. With that 141st pick, Minnesota selected DT Jaquelin Roy out of LSU. Meanwhile, the Colts selected S Daniel Scott (No. 158) and EDGE Titus Leo (No. 211). 

This certainly wasn’t a high-stakes move, so if that ends up being part of the equation, then perhaps I can be outdone here. Regardless, I believe that it will end up being looked upon as a very solid deal as early as this fall when Roy gets more playing time with the team. 

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Roy played just 96 snaps with the Vikings defense in 2023, but that should be poised to go up for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, the Vikings don’t necessarily have a ton of talent at defensive tackle outside of Jonathan Bullard and Harrison Phillips. They need another player to take on a larger role this season.

The LSU product is built to do it. His motor is incredible, allowing him to pile up snaps. In 14 games with the Tigers during the 2022 season, Roy played 50+ snaps in nine of them. While preparing for last spring’s draft, he was one of my favorite DT prospects because of that motor and his ability to consistently make an impact when he was out there. 

For now, the NFL results have not been there, but if Roy improves in the ways that I feel he can, there is at least a decent chance that he can develop into a starting nose tackle for Minnesota. This would become a very strong trade as a result.

What do you have in terms of Kwesi’s best trade, Mr. Joudry?

KJ: Like yourself, I see great potential in Roy. My belief is that he’s going to be leaned on much more in 2024, a reality that isn’t solely due to necessity. Genuinely, the man can play football (he has a really slick swim move that allows him to get penetration). 

But while the trade up to get the defensive tackle looks shrewd, let me highlight a trade back: the deal on Day 2 in 2023 with the San Francisco 49ers. 

Originally, the Vikings were sitting at 87th. The 49ers called their former employee – Kwesi Adofo-Mensah – to discuss prying away the pick in exchange for No. 102, No. 164, and No. 222. How did this work out for the two sides? 

San Francisco snagged Ji’Ayir Brown, a safety who played in 15 games as a rookie while snagging a pair of interceptions. 

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco (10) runs the ball as Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (5) defends during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Minnesota onboarded these players: 

  • Mekhi Blackmon, Corner, 102
  • Jaren Hall, Quarterback, 164
  • DeWayne McBride, Running Back, 222

To my mind, the above listed trio contains a decent bit of upside. Blackmon showed plenty of promise in 2023, suggesting he could develop into a strong CB2. As a late-3rd, that’s excellent. And then Hall still looks like the future at QB2 as a smart, athletic option to support the main passer and keep the ship afloat when called upon. 

McBride had a disappointing debut season in the NFL, failing to get onto the active roster. However, the team kept him around for a reason and he’s once again being given the chance to solidify himself as a depth option among the running backs. So, there’s still some hope for the runner who had an insanely productive college career. 

Does Roy’s upside still outweigh the potential in this cluster of players? Are there other factors that help push us toward the belief that the Roy deal may have been Adofo-Mensah’s best?

JF: That certainly is a valid argument, and I considered selecting this one as well. Any time a team can turn one pick into three players with plenty of potential should be viewed as a positive. I did have a couple nit-picks with that trade, though, which ultimately led me to go elsewhere. 

First and foremost, Ji’Ayir Brown, whom the 49ers selected with that 87th, looks like a very promising defender, who could have soothed a lot of potential problems for the future of Minnesota’s secondary.

The safety room obviously isn’t the biggest need in the world right now, but that could change sooner than later. Camryn Bynum is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and unless he signs an extension somewhat soon, he will enter free agency next spring. If he plays as well in 2024 as he did last season, he will be one of the more prominent free agents at the position.

Harrison Smith is back this year but entering his age-35 season. How much longer can he be relied upon as a starting caliber player in the defense? Obviously, there are a lot of “what ifs” here, but they are questions that I can’t help asking myself.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) enters the stadium before the game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Even if safety isn’t a concern, a good chunk of talent at other positions remained on the board when Minnesota traded down. For instance, Kobie Turner, who was selected two picks later at No. 89 by the Los Angeles Rams, could have been an immediate solution to Minnesota’s pass rushing needs on the interior of their defensive line. He piled up nine sacks as a rookie, becoming the first rookie defensive tackle to do so since Aaron Donald in 2014 (per Stathead). The ceiling seems pretty high for the Wake Forest product.

Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, so it’s a lot easier to make these sorts of critiques now than it would have been 11 months ago. Overall, I do see that trade as a positive one for the Vikings. Blackmon is a promising player at cornerback while Hall can at the very least provide some stability for the QB depth. However, I don’t necessarily see either of those players as being capable of eliminating those positions of need for the Vikings, nor does the franchise seem ready to entirely trust them in those roles. 

Blackmon’s size relays some concerns as to how well he can actually fill a CB1/2 role, and the Vikings seem to agree seeing as they brought in veteran Shaq Griffin. Meanwhile, Hall certainly won’t be a starting QB anytime soon, and his role as QB2 will be in question with the addition of Sam Darnold alongside the probable selection of a QB prospect in a couple weeks. The Vikings also saw a need to bring in Aaron Jones for the running back room rather than giving McBride a role in the offense.

Perhaps Roy won’t fully eliminate Minnesota’s need for a defensive tackle in the coming years, but as of now, the Vikings do at least seem ready to trust him to step into a bigger role. They weren’t especially active in the defensive tackle market and likely won’t be making another pick at that position until Day 3 of the draft. 

Maybe I’m entirely wrong in Minnesota’s faith in Roy (they were, after all, at least interested in players like Christian Wilkins and Teair Tart), but that’s how I’ve read the tea leaves to this point. Any quarrels with what I’ve said, Kyle?

KJ: To a certain extent, I think we see eye-to-eye on this one, but I will push back on a few points. 

Part of the issue we’re both encountering is that we’re looking to make firm conclusions with incomplete data. If Roy becomes the NT1 who is a menace against the run while pretty consistently collapsing the pocket on passing downs, then the trade up for the LSU defender was a slam dunk, home run, and hole-in-one all at the same time. 

But then we may say something similar about the trio of players for the trade I’ve chosen. 

The expectation shouldn’t be that Blackmon will be a CB1. After all, there was a reason why he lasted to the very end of the 3rd. Even still, getting a strong CB2 – a reasonable ceiling for him – would be excellent for Minnesota. 

So, too, would getting a great QB2 in the 5th be a win for Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings. 

Any Vikings fan who remembers the 2017 season understands that having an excellent backup quarterback is underrated in its importance. Now, we’re a long way off from Hall mirroring the Case Keenum magic of 2017, but I think that point can still stand: Hall has the potential to develop into a very good QB2. 

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) under center against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Coincidentally, both Blackmon and Hall got knocked down draft boards due to two identical factors: being older and being undersized. There is a world where those factors limit their NFL upside and yet there’s also a path forward for both to overcome their modest draft slots by turning into players who are a part of a lot of winning football. 

McBride then becomes the cherry on top. Like with the corner and the quarterback, the running back got slotted down a rung on the ladder when a veteran free agent got added. However, the Vikings only agreed to single-season deals in those instances. All of Sam Darnold, Shaq Griffin, and Aaron Jones are in town for just a single season. 

The implication is that Minnesota is looking to stabilize their floor in 2024 while nevertheless building toward a high ceiling in 2025 and beyond. A 2024 season where Blackmon is the CB3, Hall is the QB3, and McBride is the RB3 feels attainable; so, too, does a 2025 season where Blackmon is the CB2, Hall is the QB2, and McBride is the RB2 look to be a possibility (admittedly, the McBride component is the most unlikely). 

In a lot of ways, Josh, we’re arguing about a good problem: Adofo-Mensah pulled off a couple of trades that look promising after a year and we’re failing to nail down which one offers the most promise. Let me bring things around, then, toward a conclusion. 

Start off by offering any final details or thoughts about why the Roy trade should still take the top spot. Afterwards, hit us with another Adofo-Mensah trade that you think looks promising. 

JF: I think you put it very well when stating that we’re arguing a good problem. Any team can swing trades in the later stages of the draft, but it is hard to make them actually work on the field. 

For now, I see Roy as the top spot simply because of his potential. When he is on the field, he just has the look of a nose tackle who can be successful at the NFL level. He has the size for success at the position, and we’ve already discussed his motor and competitive spirit. He could be crucial to Minnesota’s success in the defensive trenches this season, and as you said, if it works out, he’d be a home run. 

That certainly could be the case for Blackmon at cornerback as well, but I just see a few more obstacles in his way. Regardless, if Hall can be a consistent backup, and McBride can contribute in any way, that trade also could be deemed as a major success in a couple years.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

In terms of another trade, I think we have to bring up the Ty Chandler move during the 2022 draft when talking about Adofo-Mensah’s wins. The GM swung the No. 126 pick to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for Nos. 165 and 169, which turned into Esezi Otomewo and Chandler. Meanwhile, Las Vegas used that 126th selection on DE Neil Farrell.

Obviously, Otomewo is no longer on the team, but Chandler emerged as Minnesota’s RB1 down the stretch of the 2023 season, and he looks poised to build off that season alongside Jones in 2024. 

Finding cheap talent, particularly at the running back position, is key for any team to be successful, and it appears that Adofo-Mensah nailed the move to bring in Chandler.

KJ: The Chandler deal is a good one. Nice call. 

Another two trades to keep in mind. First, turning pick No. 34 into No. 53 and No. 59 during the 2022 NFL Draft. Turning a high 2nd into a pair of late 2nds is good work. 

And then don’t forget the move up for corner Akayleb Evans. Adofo-Mensah moved from No. 156 in 2022 to No. 118 to snag Evans. The added cost was the 126th pick in 2023 (a 4th). I know that the long and strong defender struggled down the stretch of the season, but the final chapter hasn’t been written in his NFL career. Evans can still become a strong starter. 

Readers interested in learning more about Minnesota’s trades and draft picks with Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in charge can do so with pieces on PurplePTSD: The Complete Kwesi Trade Tracker and Every One of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Draft Picks

The Vikings currently have nine draft selections for the 2024 NFL Draft. 

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.