Sep 22, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Jamarca Sanford (33) reacts after giving up a touchdown during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Top 25 Vikings of 2014: No. 18 S Jamarca Sanford

Let’s continue our countdown of the top 25 Vikings of 2014 with the man at #18…

S Jamarca Sanford

The fact that Jamarca Sanford is still even on the Vikings’ roster is a little bit of a miracle. The odds were against him from the very start, being a seventh round pick. And remember that two seasons ago, Sanford came within a sliver of being cut coming out of training camp.

Sanford turned it around after nearly getting dumped, showing great improvement in 2012, and coming back in 2013 with another solid season. Back-to-back seasons as a valuable, above-average safety earned Jamarca Sanford what?

A re-negotiated lower base salary and a battle in camp just to hold onto his job. Is Jamarca Sanford under-appreciated?

That’s the thing. Even though Sanford is probably a better player than some give him credit for, I don’t think the Vikings treated him poorly by making him take a pay cut. And I don’t think it’s unfair for him to have to earn a spot all over again.

It’s a new year and a new system. Sanford was a good safety in Leslie Frazier‘s system, but Mike Zimmer asks more of his defensive backs than Frazier. Sanford will have to prove that he can be a fit in what will probably be a three-man rotation at the safety position.

Sanford’s value is as an in-the-box defender who can get physical with running backs and receivers and force some turnovers. We know all about his issues staying with receivers in coverage and his problems holding on to interceptions.

For all his weaknesses, Sanford is still overall a decent defensive football player. He has a good chance to stay and be an important part of Mike Zimmer’s D. He’s the #18 Viking of 2014.

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