By Ted Fleming
Justin Medlock, Kicker #6
Weight: 200 lbs.
Hometown: Freemont CA
Professional Experience: 5(2nd in NFL)
Unless your name is Sebastian Janikowski, placekickers generally don’t see the light of day in the NFL Draft until well into the later rounds, if at all. Janikowski is a rarity because he was not only taken with the 17th overall selection, he is bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he finally calls it quits.
Panthers’ Justin Medlock heard his name called in 2007, and while four other rounds had come and gone, the Kansas City Chiefs thought highly enough to take him in the fifth. But a funny thing happened on the way to an NFL career: he was waived after one game. Three other teams would take a flyer on him only to cut him loose twice before training camp even opened.
Medlock found a home in the Canadian Football League, that three-down league north of the border, and had stints with the Toronto Argonauts before moving on to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where he enjoyed a successful 2011 with 46 PATs and 49-of-55 field goal attempts including a 57-yarder–the longest in the league all year.
Even with veteran Olindo Mare in place, the Carolina Panthers placed a call to Medlock to come into camp and compete for a job. It was a difficult decision because he had a three-year contract offer to stay in the CFL. There was nothing but a chance in Charlotte. He chose the latter.
For the first time since that single game in 2007, Medlock has a job in the NFL because he impressed the Panthers’ staff so much they were willing to let go a proven commodity, even though he was coming off a rough season. The competition that usually separates the old hand from the new guy failed to materialize and Mare was cut.
Kickers rarely get noticed when going good, and their names only seem to get in the papers when they get cut. There is also the lack of draw to the position if for nothing else, the paycheck. Janikowski will retire a millionaire many times over and currently has a 4 year, $16 million contract from the Raiders in his hip pocket. Generally speaking, kickers are the lowest paid starter on the team and rarely hang on long enough to secure a fat long-term deal like the guy from Oakland.
Medlock might have visions of a Janikowski-type contract dancing in his head, all kickers do, but he is like a head coach – he has one of just 32 jobs of its kind in the NFL and so far, so good. He is 2-for-2 in field goal attempts and has made all 12 of his extra points.
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Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.