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azstarnet.com: Redskins select Arizona lineman in 7th round

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Old 05-01-2006, 11:18 AM   #1
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azstarnet.com: Redskins select Arizona lineman in 7th round


UA offensive lineman Kili Lefotu spent the last few months getting dissed.
He wasn't invited to the NFL's pre-draft combine in Indianapolis. He didn't play in any senior all-star games.
Heck, he wasn't even mentioned as a pro prospect in the Star's pre-draft analysis.
Sunday, the biggest long shot on a team filled with long shots caught a break.
The Washington Redskins selected Lefotu in the seventh round (230th overall pick) in the second day of the NFL draft, giving the unheralded senior a chance that his more renowned teammates missed.
Lefotu was the only UA player selected, and became the first Wildcat picked since 2003, when Bobby Wade, Lance Briggs and Makoa Freitas were taken.
"I was very surprised," Lefotu said. "Many guys didn't see me, I wasn't invited to the combine and there were no bowl games. But I was just being myself through the whole process."
Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said his scouts saw enough on tape and during the Wildcats' pro timing day to draft Lefotu.
Gibbs said he was impressed by Lefotu's 6-foot-5-inch, 315-pound frame and his versatility — he played center, guard and tackle in four years the UA.
"He's bright and he's very, very aggressive," Gibbs said in a press conference. "We couldn't want to bring in somebody if he wasn't somebody who could really compete. We felt like we got a very good pick there."
Lefotu said he talked to Redskins scouts after his on-campus workout, but didn't think much of it until Gibbs called Sunday with Washington on the clock.
"He told me congratulations, and I told him thanks," Lefotu said. "It was perfect."
Even if it was a bit of a head-scratcher.
"Of the 32 teams, Washington was one of the three teams that we didn't spend a lot of time talking to," said Mike Colucci, Lefotu's agent. "I was kind of surprised, but it's a good spot to be at."
Lefotu was seen by most as a long shot to be taken at all. Last week's mock drafts said fullback Gilbert Harris and punter Danny Baugher would be the only Cats drafted.
UA coach Mike Stoops said a week ago that he thought defensive end Copeland Bryan could be the first Cat taken.
"You can't believe everything you hear from Mel Kiper," Colucci said.
As a draftee, Lefotu will receive more money and better job security than an undrafted free agent. He is expected to receive a signing bonus between $25,000 and $40,000. Should he make the team, Lefotu would then qualify for a three-year contract worth about $1 million.
By comparison, undrafted free agents typically receive between $2,500 and $10,000 in signing bonuses, and must face longer odds when it comes to making a roster.
"Chances are, he's going to make the team," Colucci said. "He's got a real good chance of seeing $275,000 this year."
Lefotu's status as an NFL draft pick might also force him to change his priorities. Lefotu will attend Redskins mini-camp over the weekend before returning home to graduate from the UA on May 13.
And then there's the matter of his wedding to fiancée Andrea Jaramillo, which is scheduled — very tentatively — for Nov. 25, right in the middle of football season.
"Depending on what happens with me and the Redskins," he said, "plans might change."
3 Cats sign free agent deals
Three of the UA's five undrafted prospects agreed to free agent contracts late Sunday night, and the other two are expected to come to terms in the next few days.
Danny Baugher (Bengals), Darrell Brooks (Cowboys) and Copeland Bryan (Titans) will continue their football careers at minicamps next week.
Baugher, the UA punter who was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, chose the Bengals over Philadelphia, New England, Cleveland and San Francisco in part because of Cincinnati special teams coach Darrin Simmons' reputation.
"Their team is really young," Baugher said of the Bengals, who made the playoffs last season. "They're really on the rise, and I like that."
Bryan, a versatile defender who can play both defensive end and linebacker, signed as a "rush end" with Tennessee. He said he hopes to not only make the team but play as a rookie.
Brooks, the Wildcats' spark plug the last two seasons, is expected to compete for playing time at free safety or strong safety.
Fullback Gilbert Harris and tailback Mike Bell could not be reached Sunday night, but are expected to be signed as soon as this morning.
Ex-Cat dealt to Chargers
Former UA tight end Brandon Manumaleuna was traded from the St. Louis Rams to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday in exchange for fourth- and sixth-round picks.
Manumaleuna made 14 starts last season, but caught just 13 passes. He was made expendable when the Rams drafted Colorado's Joe Klopfenstein and USC's Dominique Byrd, both tight ends.
"He can run like Jerry Rice and hit like Night Train Lane" 21
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