If you have found yourself frustrated by a Vikings offseason that seemed to have the potential for a lot of change but instead has yielded a lot of "more of the same," perhaps you should reset your expectations and pay attention when the No. 12 pick in the draft is announced Thursday night.
At some point that evening, the Vikings and new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be on the clock. And it's at that point that we will start to get our first real look at how the new Vikings leadership operates.
Up to this point, Adofo-Mensah and everyone involved in the culture of collaboration largely have had to make decisions with preconceived notions and constraints built into them.
The decision on what to do with Kirk Cousins, the biggest one facing the Vikings this offseason, was not just a simple yes or no. There were salary cap constraints to consider. There was a complicated quarterback trade market. There was an ownership group that wants to be competitive in 2022.
Adofo-Mensah and new head coach Kevin O'Connell might have decided regardless of the external factors baked into the decision that they wanted to keep Cousins, but they were present regardless.
Same goes for decisions to commit to Adam Thielen and Danielle Hunter. If he had other options, would O'Connell heap so much praise on center Garrett Bradbury?
The draft, though, is different — as Andrew Krammer and I talked about on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast.
There are not external financial considerations. Sure, there might be roster needs, but any good decisionmaker with the latitude to exercise judgment is going to choose players they think provide the best value.
Even if the Vikings end up picking a corner with the No. 12 overall pick — a distinct possibility based on mock drafts, value and need, and something that would have been likely during the Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer era — we will start to see how Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell value positions and players differently than their predecessors.
Trying to decide which players on your current roster to keep is complicated. Trying to woo free agents is a two-way street that doesn't always yield the desired results.
But the draft is as much of a blank canvas to improve a roster as is possible. You choose the player at a fixed cost, and he's on the roster for multiple years after that.
And we get a real look at how the new Vikings think.