The Vikings have completed their first round of interviews with eight candidates for their general manager vacancy, wrapping that stage of the process up with the final two on Thursday.
As a reminder, these are the eight:
- Monti Ossenfort, Titans director of player personnel
- John Spytek, Buccaneers VP of player personnel
- Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Browns VP of football operations
- Catherine Raiche, Eagles VP of football operations
- Ryan Poles, Chiefs executive director of player personnel
- Brandon Brown, Eagles director of player personnel
- Glenn Cook, Browns VP of player personnel
- Eliot Wolf, Patriots front office consultant
Unlike the Vikings' list of eight coaching candidates, which could continue to grow in the coming weeks, it appears that this GM list is set. Unless something unexpected happens, Rick Spielman's replacement is going to be one of those eight people.
I won't pretend to know enough about these GM candidates to have strong opinions on which one the Vikings should hire. They have differing backgrounds and levels of experience — the common threads being that none are over 45 years old or have ever been an NFL GM before — but all of them could certainly be successful in the role.
I do want to highlight one name, and that's Ryan Poles from the Chiefs. He had an "impressive" interview with the Vikings on Wednesday, according to longtime NFL reporter Aaron Wilson. That's the only rumor or report I've seen emerge from the Vikings' GM interviews thus far.
Poles was a finalist for the Panthers' GM job last year. He's one of three finalists for the Giants' job this year (update: the Giants hired Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen, so Poles is still available). And based on that report, he might end up as a finalist for the Vikings' opening as well, potentially getting a second interview soon.
It makes sense. Poles comes from the Chiefs organization, which is one of the most successful in the NFL right now. A lot of that has to do with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, of course, but Kansas City has built a strong roster and coaching staff that extends well beyond those two.
Poles, 36, blocked for Matt Ryan as a Boston College offensive lineman in the mid-2000s. He's been with the Chiefs for the past 13 seasons, working in front offices led by GMs Scott Pioli, John Dorsey, and now Brett Veach. You don't survive two regime changes if you're not outstanding at your job. Poles' No. 1 area of expertise is college scouting and the draft, but he's broadened his responsibilities over the years to include pro scouting, contracts, and much more.
It's no secret that the offensive line has been an issue for the Vikings for much of the last decade, and Poles might be the most qualified person to address that weakness out of any of the eight candidates. Not only is he a former OL himself, he's proven to be an excellent evaluator of OL talent. This past offseason, the Chiefs revamped their entire offensive line. They signed free agent guard Joe Thuney, traded for tackle Orlando Brown Jr, and landed two starters in the draft. Second-round pick Creed Humphrey was arguably the best center in the NFL this year as a rookie. Sixth-round pick Trey Smith started every game at guard and played very well. Thuney and Brown were great, and the combination of Andrew Wylie and Lucas Niang at right tackle held up fine.
The Vikings appear to have three long-term building blocks on their offensive line in Brian O'Neill, Ezra Cleveland, and Christian Darrisaw. Poles could be the guy to find two other quality players to round out the line.
But don't focus too much on the O-line. Poles is a strong GM candidate for many more reasons than his expertise in that area. He's experienced, has an impressive scouting track record across numerous position groups, and places an emphasis on communication and collaboration, which the Vikings are looking for.
"It's communication, it's being on the same page with the coaching staff," Poles said when asked what has worked so well for the Chiefs. "I truly believe when your coaching staff and your personnel are walking together and making decisions together, they can have in-depth discussions and identify what they want not only for a position group, but for the culture that Coach Reid wants, I think you're on the right path. And I think you can do damage in terms of acquiring players that represent what you want to be as an organization."
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