What to know about the two finalists for the Minnesota Vikings general manager opening

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MEMORY POLICE – The Minnesota Vikings narrowed their list of candidates for the team’s general manager from eight to two finalists. On Tuesday, Cleveland Brown’s vice president of football operations, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, will have his second interview with the Vikings, followed by Kansas City Chiefs chief of staff Ryan Poles, who will meet with the team on Wednesday. Both interviews will be conducted in person at the team headquarters.

Meanwhile, the Vikings have been pushing with interviews to find their next head coach. After the 49ers beat Green Bay in the division playoffs, San Francisco defense coordinator DeMeco Ryans spoke with Minnesota on Sunday, the last of eight introductory interviews.

While Minnesota’s general manager will be responsible for hiring the team’s replacement for former coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings also chose to conduct interviews for their next coach and GM. According to the league rules, if a franchise interviews coaches whose teams are heading for the championship weekend, an initial interview must have been completed before the end of the division playoffs, otherwise the teams will not be able to request to speak to these candidates, if their team makes the Super Bowl until after February 14th.

As the Vikings approach their next general manager, an appointment that could take place this week, here’s a look at two candidates whose vastly different backgrounds make a compelling decision.

Kwesi Adofo Mensah

Brown’s general manager Andrew Berry hired Adofo-Mensah from San Francisco in 2020, after spending seven seasons as the 49ers’ manager – then director – of football research and development. The 40-year-old holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics from Princeton and Stanford, respectively, and had several Wall Street projects as a portfolio manager and commodity trader before joining the NFL.

Adofo-Mensah oversees talent evaluators and the Cleveland analysis team to help Berry gather information to make roster transaction decisions. He also has experience with contract management. Because he does not have the traditional scout background like others who have interviewed for the Viking GM opening, including Poles, Adofo-Mensah is best suited in a role where he delegates to evaluators to gather the information needed to make staff decisions .

“When I was sitting in a room with good evaluators like I’ve been around San Francisco, I just took everything they told me,” Adofo-Mensah told Cleveland media members after he was hired in 2020. “I tried to find the intuition behind it. I ask “why” a lot. You will find out about me. I would like to know even the simplest question. You may think it’s simple but I build the complex bridge that will bring me a complex place. “

His background in analytics – along with his ability to use quantitative methods to maximize talent on Cleveland’s list – makes him an untraditional candidate in Minnesota. Those who have worked with Adofo-Mensah at his various stops regard him as process-oriented, which can help the Vikings’ front office change several elements of its operation by using evidence-based research to make decisions in free action and the draft.

Minnesota Chief Operating Officer Andrew Miller, who organized and led the interviews for all GM and head coach candidates, was hired by the Vikings in 2019 following a career with the Toronto Blue Jays, for whom he oversaw the improvement of business-related systems and processes. There are similarities in the background of Miller and Adofo-Mensah, which could herald a shift in the general manager’s seat in Minnesota to more of a CEO-type leader than a scout / evaluator.

Adofo-Mensah interviewed Carolina’s general manager, who opened in 2021. In addition to Minnesota, the Browns’ front office VP also interviewed the Chicago Bears for their vacant general manager.

Ryan Poles

The Pole has spent his entire 13-year front-office career with the Kansas City Chiefs after playing offensive tackle at Boston College from 2004-07. He started with Chiefs as a player staff assistant in 2009 and rose through the scouting ranks to his current role as CEO of player staff. His expertise lies in the evaluation of college players. He has spent the 2010-17 seasons in a variety of roles, including Chiefs’ director of college scouting in 2017, the year Kansas City switched to Patrick Mahomes.

He is 36 and has worked under three different general managers in Kansas City – Scott Pioli, John Dorsey and now Brett Veach. Poles reached the second round of interviews with the New York Giants for their general manager opening and have other interviews this week with Minnesota and Chicago.

The Poles’ background is more in line with former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, whose focus was more on building through the draft than on free agency.

“The college side is how to build a list,” Poles said during a Nunn-Wooten Scout Community session last summer while talking to young scouts about the season’s scouting process. “If I ever become general manager, that’s how I would do it.”

The day Minnesota fired both Spielman and Zimmer, Vikings owner Mark Wilf reiterated that he does not believe his team is in the process of rebuilding. Hiring a general manager with extensive experience in scouting and evaluation could be what the Vikings need to build a bridge between the players currently on their roster to field a competitive team in 2022. Both team co-directors for player staff, Ryan Monnens and Jamaal Stephenson have more than 20 years of experience in this field, which could blend well with the Poles’ philosophy on how to get the Vikings back to being a playoff team.

And the Poles’ background as an offensive lineman – along with how well the Chiefs were able to rebuild their O-line – could be an important sale to those who made the hiring. Minnesota’s offensive line was number 27th blocking passes in 2021. Chiefs renewed their entire Olympics after last year’s Super Bowl by signing guard Joe Thuney, substitute for tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and drafts for Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith, who both started as rookies for the Chiefs this season.


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