Did Vikings succeed in addressing their 'big offseason'?

Dan Orlovsky makes a bold claim about J.J. McCarthy (1:06)

Dan Orlovsky and Mel Kiper Jr. analyze how J.J. McCarthy will fare in his rookie season for the Minnesota Vikings. (1:06)

EAGAN, Minn. -- The expression on Kevin O'Connell's face, captured on video and memed on social media, said it all. The Minnesota Vikings coach was at once shocked and thrilled to hear general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah confirm a trade to move up in last weekend's NFL draft, one that allowed them to select Alabama pass-rusher Dallas Turner at No. 17 overall -- seven spots after they had traded up for Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

The pair of moves put a dramatic exclamation point on what Adofo-Mensah had said would be a "big offseason" for the franchise, one in which the team symbolically swapped out arguably the two most important positions on any football team. Minnesota replaced quarterback Kirk Cousins with McCarthy and veteran Sam Darnold, and it filled the void left by the departures of outside linebackers Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum with Turner and free agents Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel.

For the Vikings, however, it was more than simply a big or important offseason. It proved in many ways to be an "all-in" offseason, one that delivered encouraging results but nearly wiped out the team's ability to select additional impact players for the remainder of the 2024 draft and in 2025.

The Vikings burned a total of 10 draft choices (via trade or with the selections themselves) to acquire McCarthy and Turner. It left them without picks in the second, third and fifth rounds last weekend and with only three total selections (one in Round 1 and two in Round 5) in 2025. Next year's final count likely will be impacted by compensatory picks, but for now, the Vikings are scheduled to have the fewest top-100 picks (four) in the NFL over the three-year period between 2023 and 2025, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Those consequences did not temper the Vikings' mood last weekend, and as he looked ahead to a post-draft party that he said might include a karaoke performance, Adofo-Mensah pondered whether he -- and the franchise -- had met the moment he had heralded.

"I know we've worked to that moment," he said. "Everything my mom ever told me was about, 'Put everything you can into it, and the process will take care of itself,' and I know we did. We left everything on the field. We looked under every rock. I mean, I'm not sure I've ever been more tired, maybe, outside of the birth my child.

"But I'm so proud of the group and what we've put into it, the smiles on their faces, the names on these sheets. The things that get to go up on the depth chart right now are the results of the hard work, and everybody in this organization should be proud of what they did. I can tell you that I believe we met the moment from a process standpoint. Results are what they are, and we will be judged by them. But from an effort, from a planning, from an executing-a-vision standpoint, I do believe we did."

Driven by design and circumstances, the Vikings spent much of the spring pouring resources into two critical parts of the roster. On the other side of those efforts, they have paired a promising 21-year-old quarterback of the future in McCarthy with a veteran in Darnold, whom they believe can play well enough to avoid rushing the rookie onto the field. They fortified their edge with blue-chip talent and versatility, while making clear to Turner what they have planned: "They said make sure I'm ready to rush the passer when I get off the plane," he said.

Vikings LB Dallas Turner's prospect profile

Check out some of the top college highlights from new Vikings linebacker Dallas Turner.

And as receiver Justin Jefferson inches closer to an expected contract extension, a new core of players has materialized. Make no mistake about it, however. That core is largely what Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell will press forward with.

It's true that the Vikings are projected to have the NFL's fifth-highest total of salary cap space next season ($103.6 million), according to Roster Management System. But if you accept that the draft remains the most efficient method for acquiring long-term talent, the Vikings have left themselves with a scarcity of opportunities in the near future.

That kind of approach, longtime NFL executive Joe Banner said on X, is "a model very different than other successful turnarounds." Many of those turnarounds have been built on a higher volume of draft choices in all rounds, but especially the top 100 picks, which in theory better accounts for the inherent inefficiencies in identifying successful players.

But in explaining his decisions last weekend, Adofo-Mensah made two primary points. First, he said that while "you never want to give up future picks," sometimes there is a player within reach who is too much of an "outlier." Adofo-Mensah, in fact, had briefly considered taking Turner with his first pick in the round and then circling back to maneuver for a quarterback.

Doing so, he said, would have been "all just ego." Ultimately, the Vikings stayed disciplined enough in their quarterback search to wait for McCarthy first and then poured their leftover draft capital into acquiring Turner. Accounting for the original trade in March to acquire the No. 23 overall pick, and then the deal they made with the Jacksonville Jaguars to move to No. 17, they used the equivalent of two mid-first-round picks to get Turner, according to ESPN Analytics. Their aggressiveness is especially notable in the context of the first two drafts in Adofo-Mensah's tenure, which netted only one true impact player (receiver Jordan Addison).

"For players like that who we would have taken at 11 and who we thought were going to go before we picked [again]," Adofo-Mensah said, "you don't end up regretting those decisions."

Second, Adofo-Mensah emphasized the value of the talent level that is available in later rounds of the draft.

"Really, to me, it's just the mindset," he said. "People so easily tear players down, right? There is no perfect player. It's really trying to get people to understand just because the player is not perfect doesn't mean he can't be good, or average, and that's how you win in the league. Obviously, you need your great players, but you need those adequate players, your numbers 30 through 45 [on the roster], to be just marginally better than everybody else's. And that comes from a mindset. ... So really, it's just breeding that mindset in the organization."

And with that, Adofo-Mensah left to rest, recuperate and celebrate. Speaking to reporters Saturday evening, he would not commit to participation in karaoke. He did acknowledge, however, his go-to song from his years in graduate school at Stanford.

Appropriately, it was O-Town's "All or Nothing."