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Chiefs choose Medlock

April 30, 2007|Chris Foster and Gary Klein | Times Staff Writers

Justin Medlock was lounging around his Westwood apartment Sunday, trying to keep his interest in the NFL draft as casual as possible.

He knew kickers rarely get drafted, at least that was the tale he'd often heard. Still, as the second-leading scorer in UCLA football history, Medlock had gained a toehold in the minds of NFL scouts.

"I was with my girlfriend and my mom and a friend," said Medlock, who scored 357 points during his Bruins career. "We were watching the picks, then Kansas City came up, and I had a feeling that might be the team. Then my phone rang and all of a sudden everyone got real quiet."

The Chiefs made Medlock the first kicker selected in the 2007 draft, taking him with their second pick of the fifth round. No other UCLA player was drafted.

USC linebackers Dallas Sartz and Oscar Lua also were chosen Sunday, increasing the number of Trojans drafted to five.

Medlock was confident he'd be selected but admitted being excited to get the call.

"Everyone started talking, asking who it was, and my mom had to tell them all, 'Sssssh,' " Medlock said. "I was just excited. You never know if you're a kicker where you might go, fourth round, fifth round, maybe not at all and you sign as a free agent. I was wondering, but I had little doubt."

That came from a successful career at UCLA, where he was the Bruins' most consistent weapon on offense last season. He made 28 of 32 field goals and led the team with 113 points. He missed only one extra-point attempt in four seasons.

Medlock wasn't sure what his chances were, even after attending an NFL combine and going through a handful of individual workouts. Only 10 kickers were selected in the previous five drafts. Still, he had a hunch about the Chiefs after General Manager Carl Peterson -- a UCLA graduate -- talked with him at the East-West Shrine All-Star game.

"I knew they were looking for a kicker," Medlock said. "I talked with their special teams coach during the combine. But it is a situation where the teams that like you have to keep quiet. They all have a poker face."

The only thing teams were unsure about was Medlock's leg strength on kickoffs. His predraft workouts were enough for the Chiefs.

Lawrence Tynes, the Chiefs' kicker last season, made 24 of 31 field goals and finished with 106 points. Throughout his career, though, Tynes has made only 14 of 24 field goals from 40 to 49 yards, a 58% success rate that is below the NFL average of 72%. Medlock was 25 of 33 (76%) from 40 to 49 yards while at UCLA.

Tynes signed a one-year, $850,000 contract, but his hold on the job seemed shaky.

The Washington Redskins took Sartz in the fifth round, and the New England Patriots took Lua in the seventh round.

Sartz and Lua received their good news a day after three USC Trojans teammates were drafted in the second round. The Carolina Panthers took receiver Dwayne Jarrett and center Ryan Kalil and the New York Giants selected receiver Steve Smith.

USC Coach Pete Carroll said Jarrett's slip to the second round was another lesson for draft-eligible juniors who contemplate turning pro without assurance from NFL evaluators that they are regarded as the top player at their position.

"I think this is an extraordinary statement about how things work," Carroll said. "It's so clear about what we've been talking about the last few years. It couldn't be more obvious."

USC receiver Chris McFoy agreed to a free-agent contract with the Oakland Raiders, according to his agent. Fullback Ryan Powdrell said he would sign with Green Bay. Offensive lineman Kyle Williams said he would sign the Baltimore.

UCLA defensive end Justin Hickman was expected to sign as a free agent with Washington.

chris.foster@latimes.com

gary.klein@latimes.com

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