After a thorough process interviewing several candidates, the Minnesota Vikings came to the decision to hire Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. The Vikings finished with an 8-9 record and were barred from the postseason for the third consecutive year. 

Minnesota is projected to have the fourth-least amount of salary cap space with roughly $-12.2 million, according to It is a challenging situation for a first-time general manager. The team has needs at all three levels of the defense. Adofo-Mensah is tasked with potentially replacing a lot of veteran talent, including cornerback Patrick Peterson, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and linebacker Anthony Barr. 

If the team wanted to commit to a rebuild, it could part ways with wide receiver Adam Thielen, edge rusher Danielle Hunter, defensive tackle Michael Pierce, linebacker Eric Kendricks and safety Harrison Smith to save a lot of money towards the salary cap. Kendricks seems the most likely of the group. 

For the sake of this exercise, let's assume that the franchise splits the difference and tries to remain competitive in an NFC North that could be without Aaron Rodgers next season. Under this scenario, Kirk Cousins would return for potentially his last season in Minneapolis. 

Round 1 (No. 12 overall): Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

As Minnesota's pick draws near, they are likely focusing on adding either a top rated cornerback or edge rusher. Purdue's George Karlaftis is the third edge rusher -- behind Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux -- that should be considered this early. LSU's Derek Stingley Jr. is the other cornerback that would hypothetically be considered but most expect him to be off the board.

When picking a cornerback this early in the draft, teams are looking for potential lockdown man coverage cornerbacks. Gardner has been that prospect since his freshman season with the Bearcats. He is confident and competitive. 

Round 2: Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State

If the Vikings are looking for the best pairing at two premier positions, then it makes the most sense to go cornerback in Round 1 and edge rusher in Round 2. There should be several edge rusher options to consider around where Minnesota is picking: Florida State's Jermaine Johnson, South Carolina's Kingsley Enagbare, USC's Drake Jackson, Michigan's David Ojabo, San Diego State's Cameron Thomas and Ebiketie. 

The former Temple transfer is explosive off the snap and will challenge opposing offensive tackles around the corner. He is a hard-working player that has really improved his hand usage. 

Round 3: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State

Kyle Rudolph was cast away to the Big Apple last season and Chris Herndon did not amount to much in his first season with the franchise. Irv Smith Jr. missed the entirety of the season and that placed a lot of pressure on Tyler Conklin. Ruckert is a better pass catcher than which he is given credit, but he is also one of the better blockers in the class. To continue with a run-heavy offense, Minnesota could benefit from having Ruckert on the edge sealing runs for Dalvin Cook.

Round 5: Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

Thielen is not going to play forever and wide receiver is often a position where teams can find good value into Day 3. Tolbert is a highly-productive player that could grow into a role opposite Justin Jefferson. 

Round 6: Micah McFadden, LB, Indiana & Ja'Sir Taylor, CB, Wake Forest

McFadden is a smart player that adds depth to that unit. It was mentioned that Kendricks could be on his way out the door so that group will need a bit of attention this offseason. Taylor is a competitive prospect that can play the field. One thing of note for Vikings fans is that Cleveland had certain guardrails that they tried to stay within to avoid disaster in the NFL Draft. Age has been a big talking point and that should carry over into Adofo-Mensah's stay in power.

Round 7: Dare Rosenthal, OT, Kentucky

The LSU transfer has the athletic traits to be a potential starter down the road. He had some issues with balance this season and needs significant work on his technique. Teams will gamble on the possibility of finding a starting caliber offensive tackle late in the draft.