Here's hoping South Carolina tight end Nick Muse has an inner Jamarca Sanford he can bring to life when he arrives in Minnesota as the 77th seventh-round draft pick in 62 seasons of Vikings football.

No, the lovable Jamarca isn't the best seventh-round pick in team history. That honor belongs to Bobby Bryant, a beanpole of a defensive back who played 13 seasons (1968-80) and intercepted 51 passes, 32nd-best in league history.

But Jamarca was darn special. The undersized Ole Miss safety had an oversized heart, a motor mouth in a good way, and the kind of personality that once made fellow safety Harrison Smith respond to this reporter's pro-Jamarca tweet by saying, "I would play with 10 Jamarca Sanfords for free."

From 1961 to their 46th season in 2006, the Vikings picked 44 players in the seventh round, which became the draft's final round in 1994. Over the next 15 seasons, Rick Spielman picked 32 seventh-rounders while running the draft, including a whopping 13 in a four-year stretch from 2017-2020.

The words "seventh-round pick" became a Purple punchline for criticizing general managers who tend to trade down. Last week, fans even wondered whether Spielman's successor, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, was zinging Trader Rick when he said that not even "1,000 seventh-round picks" could equal the value of a first-round pick.

Fans roared their approval. Until they booed their disapproval when Kwesi took a call from Detroit and traded down from 12 to 32 in the first round.

A flurry of fourth-round trades with the Raiders ended up moving Kwesi's first and only crack at a seventh-rounder from 250th overall to 227. With that 10th pick of the draft – which was Spielman's minimum magic number of picks to acquire every year – Kwesi went with an intriguing tight end prospect who has a chance of sticking around since the team lost Tyler Conklin to the Jets.

The word on the 6-5, 259-pound Muse is he's got potential as a route runner, shows the ability to make the first defender miss and – cliché alert! – "blocks to the echo of the whistle." Of course, the reason he's a seventh-rounder is he needs to get stronger and more consistent. He caught 30 balls in 2020 and 20 last year.

A seven-minute Zoom call after he was picked showed he has a personality and perhaps a Sanford-like underdog swagger that comes from starting out at William & Mary because none of the Power 5 schools gave him a sniff.

"When it comes to life, I don't have one of those sad situations where I had to get it out of the mud, as they say," said Muse, who chose South Carolina over LSU when he transferred in 2019. "But when it comes to football, I did. Now that I'm in this situation, it's something I can lean on and say that's what got me there."

Asked when he went from unsure underdog to overachiever who knew he'd get drafted, Muse pointed to the Georgia game his junior year. The Gamecocks lost, but Muse caught eight balls for 131 yards and a touchdown against a defense that a year later had a record five players picked in the first round, including safety Lewis Cine 32nd overall to the Vikings.

"Playing against those guys and I went 8 for 8 and the only catch I didn't have was pass interference," Muse said. "So I knew if I can play against them and not only hold my own but do better than hold my own, I knew I could be an NFL player."

It also helps that his older brother Tanner, a Seahawks safety, was drafted by the Raiders in the third round in 2020.

Twenty-three of Spielman's seventh-rounders ended up playing at least one game for the Vikings. Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (2014) started 51 games. Sanford (2009) started 44. Among seventh-rounders in team history, that ranks fourth and fifth behind tight end Steve Jordan (149), defensive back Carl Lee (144) and Bryant (128).

When Sanford was shown that list 10 years ago when he ranked fourth, he howled with delight, shouting, "You OWN that stat, big man!"

At the time, the Vikings were doing everything they could to draft and develop Sanford's replacement. But for three years, no one could beat him out.

Adofo-Mensah's first swing at a seventh-rounder will connect if Muse can unleash an inner Jamarca when he arrives at TCO Performance Center.