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THE NFL DRAFT : Maddox's Gamble Pays Off With Broncos : Southland: Former UCLA quarterback, 20, is chosen during the first round, the 25th pick overall.

April 27, 1992|MAL FLORENCE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Moments before UCLA quarterback Tommy Maddox was chosen in the first round by the Denver Broncos, the 25th pick overall, Joe Theismann was on television saying that Maddox would be a good prospect for the World League.

Maddox, sitting in a hotel room in a Newport Beach, simply smiled and then gave the thumbs-up sign when Denver made its selection.

Theismann had said that Maddox should have remained in school, and that he would have done better for himself in the draft next year.

He didn't do badly this time. He is with a successful franchise and will be given time to develop and mature behind John Elway, who will be 32 in June.

Maddox quickly put on an orange and blue Denver jacket and cap, and his family, including his wife, Jennifer; his father, Wayne; and mother, Glynda, cheered.

Maddox is only 20, and some NFL representatives have said he wasn't mature enough to play in the NFL.

"I can understand how people won't accept the fact that a sophomore playing at UCLA, who has everything in the world going for him, (suddenly) jumps up and wants to go to the NFL," Maddox said.

"I was just anxious to get into the league. I had to evaluate what was more important to me, winning the national (college) championship or getting into the NFL."

Maddox repeatedly has said that it was a "gut feeling" for him to forsake his college eligibility and make himself available for the draft.

Leigh Steinberg, who represents Maddox, said Denver was an ideal situation for him.

"Denver fit the mold of a team that would take Tommy--a team with no glaring weaknesses, and a team that was not desperate to utilize a player right away; a team with a real quality quarterback who wasn't too old," Steinberg said.

"They (Broncos) were very much up front how much they wanted Tommy. He had dinner with (Coach) Dan Reeves and met with the coaches."

Maddox said that 23 teams have evaluated him at workouts at West Los Angeles College.

"We had to set up an entire scouting apparatus because you can't work out on campus (a Pacific 10 rule)," Steinberg said.

Asked if he will be content to learn and wait before he gets a chance to play with Denver, Maddox said:

"I like the idea. I don't care if you're a fifth-year senior or second-year sophomore, it's tough to step into this league. I just want to be ready when my opportunity comes up."

Maddox added that when a Denver secretary came on the phone and said that Reeves wanted to talk to him, he didn't know what to say.

"I wanted to jump up and hit my head on the ceiling," Maddox said.

"Leigh and I evaluated the teams, and he felt Denver was the perfect situation and I like Denver. It's a great place to live and raise a family."

Steinberg said that Denver's only opportunity to draft Maddox--without trading--would have to come this year.

"If Tommy had stayed in school, he would have been near the top of the draft list next year, and Denver probably would have to trade up to get him," Steinberg said.

There was some speculation that Kansas City, drafting ahead of Denver, might pick Maddox.

Steinberg didn't foresee that scenario.

"I talked to (general manager) Carl Peterson, and he thought Tommy was a second rounder," Steinberg said.

Maddox said he couldn't be happier, adding, "It's one of the greatest days of my life."

Draft Notes

Tommy Maddox said he has been on a weight-training program and has gained 16 pounds, now weighing 206. Maddox said he intended to fly to Denver Sunday night to meet with the Bronco coaching staff. . . . Maddox will be competing with Steve Pelluer, former Washington quarterback, and Shawn Moore, formerly of Virginia, for the backup job behind John Elway.

David Klingler, former Houston quarterback, is also a client of Leigh Steinberg. Klingler said he was surprised that Cincinnati selected him as the sixth pick in the first round because they had shown only modest interest in him. He will be backing up veteran Boomer Esiason.

Linebacker Kurt Barber was the first USC player selected. He went to the New York Jets as the 42nd pick overall in the second round. Two Stanford players were selected during the first round: Bob Whitfield of Carson, offensive lineman, No. 8 to Atlanta and Tommy Vardell of El Cajon, fullback, No. 9, Cleveland.

Washington defensive back Dana Hall went to the San Francisco 49ers during the first round, the 18th pick overall, giving the Pacific 10 Conference four first-round selections. . . . Tennessee defensive tackle Chris Mims, from Dorsey High, was the San Diego Chargers' choice during the first round, 23rd overall. . . . Wide receiver Patrick Rowe of San Diego State was the 52nd pick overall during the second round.

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