I feel that next season we're going to see a Rebel secondary and defense at-large which operates very, very differently. We are obviously going to be doing our best to shore up the middle of our defensive line to pick up where All-American Peria Jerry left off. We should see a quicker yet smaller linebacking corps geared towards playmaking. And we should see a secondary which, while good, should focus more heavily on coverage without the help of Jamarca Sanford's reliable, solid tackling.
Losing Safety Jamarca Sanford to the Minnesota Vikings in the 7th round of last weekend's NFL draft will very much reveal to us just how important the four-year starter at safety meant to our defense.
Sanford surprised even seasoned Rebel fans with his 40-time (4.5) at the NFL Combine. I wouldn't want the Vikings fans to think they're getting a blazer, because they're not, but I think it's safe to say that Jamarca keeps his abilities close to his chest. He's fast (but not incredibly so), strong, a leader and, above all, a fundamental tackler who hardly ever shies away from bringing the hat when called upon.
I feel that this last season saw Sanford finally being used in a manner which perfectly suited his abilities. Rebel Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix basically used Sanford as a "Rover," or fourth linebacker. If you'll recall, Sanford was rarely utilized in coverage but was often seen in the box, on a blitz, or assisting Tony Fein or Ashlee Palmer on a tackle. If used in this manner by the Vikings, Sanford could contribute early and often to their efforts in that they're not very deep at safety.
With DE Jared Allen, DE Keneche Udeze, OLB Chad Greenway, and CB Cedric Griffin, the Vikings have one of the fastest defenses in the NFL. Adding Sanford gives them a guy with decent speed and just about as much experience as you could ask for in a rookie. Sanford may be eased into playing time through secial teams but, once he is acclimated to the size and speed of professional ball, he should be the same consistent, passionate performer for the Vikings as he was for our Rebels.