Meet the 2 Finalists for Vikings General Manager Position: Report

Ziggy Wilf

Getty Ziggy Wilf

After interviewing eight different candidates, the Minnesota Vikings have found two finalists for the team’s general manager position.

The #Vikings are requesting second interviews with #Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles and #Browns VP of Football Operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for their GM job, per sources. As of now, those are the two finalists,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Friday. 

Poles, a former college football player who emphasizes scouting, has been with the Kansas City Chiefs since 2009 and was among the lead decision-makers in scouting and drafting Patrick Mahomes. Adofo-Mensah, a former commodities trader with an Ivy League background, made a career change in 2013, taking on research and development for the San Francisco 49ers and building a team that made a 2018 Super Bowl run without a superstar quarterback.

“The Vikings wanted to interview a host of candidates with different backgrounds, and that’s certainly reflected in their two finalists for the GM job,” ESPN’s Courtney Cronin tweeted. “Ryan Poles’ strengths on the personnel side and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s background as a commodities trader with an economics degree coupled with his work in analytics/research in various front office roles will make the Vikings choose one of two paths when they hire a GM. Either can work – choosing someone who has more of an evaluation/scouting background or someone who is heavy in processes/analytics.”

If the Vikings do decide to go with one of the two reported finalists, Minnesota’s general manager will be one of just three Black general managers in the NFL.

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Background on Adofo-Mensah

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Courtesy of VikingsBrowns Vice President of Football Operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

Adofo-Mensah got his first NFL job in 2013 as the 49ers’ manager of football research and development before being promoted to the director of the same department in 2016.

He led the 49ers’ push to “develop and implement advanced quantitative methods for game strategy and personnel evaluation,” the Chicago Bears, which Adofo-Mensah also interviewed with, wrote.

When the Browns hired general manager Andrew Berry last season, Berry made an initiative to steal Adofo-Mensah from the 49ers staff by promoting him to vice president of football operations with the Browns.

Adofo-Mensah played basketball and graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and later received his master’s degree from Stanford.

Berry spoke highly of Adofo-Mensah in a recent Chicago Tribune article:

No. 1, it’s his general cognitive abilities. He’s a super, super bright guy, and that comes across within the first two minutes that you meet him.

No. 2, and probably just as importantly, it’s just people skills. You could see how he had been able to build relationships across a number of different groups during his time at San Francisco in a role that can be very challenging, because you have to be able to not only develop (analytic) insights, but communicate them and get people to buy in. And then the other thing was just his breadth of understanding of the sport and football operations. So even though he had formally just led the 49ers’ research group, you could tell that he understood team building, people, relationships and managerial skills at a much higher level.

Kimberley A. Martin took to Twitter to clarify that Adofo-Mensah “isn’t just an analytics guy… In CLE he (and Glenn Cook) are viewed by (Berry) as asst GMs. Kwesi A-M has scouting + contract management experience and helps AB w/all big decisions The dude *knows* football. #Vikings.”

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Background on Poles

Ryan Poles

Courtesy of VikingsKansas City Chiefs Executive Director of Player Personnel Ryan Poles

A former offensive lineman at Boston College, Poles has climbed the NFL executive ranks mainly on the college scouting side.

Starting as a Chiefs player personnel assistant in 2009, Poles rose through the ranks of the college scouting department, becoming director in 2017 — the year the Chiefs gambled on Mahomes, who was deemed anywhere from a second-round talent to a late third-day pick by executives around the league. Poles not only survived the firings of Scott Pioli and John Dorsey; he thrived, receiving promotions following the firings of both former Chiefs general managers.

“Poles oversees all aspects of the scouting of college football players across the country, assists in the pro process and prepares for free agency, in addition to assisting general manager Brett Veach with the coordination of the NFL Draft and overseeing the team’s out-of-town area scouts,” per Giants.com.

Poles’ background would prove helpful in rebuilding a Vikings defense through the draft while the team is still limited by its cap space.

“I know him. I know his character. I’ve sat and broken bread with him. I know how hard he is willing to work,” Former Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said of Poles, his college teammate, to Newsday. “I think he can do it. He’s well-equipped for the job. He is more than up to the challenge. He gets it, and I believe he would bring that to New York,” former Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka on Poles, his college teammate.

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