DETROIT - Detroit Lions president Matt Millen didn't hesitate to trade this year's fourth-round draft pick to move up four spots in the second round and take Southern California defensive lineman Shaun Cody.
Detroit's brass rated Cody as a first-round pick.
"We saw him dropping. We had Shaun Cody ranked very high on our board. We didn't want to lose him," said Millen, who also dealt Detroit's 41st pick to Tennessee so he could grab Cody at No. 37.
Cody, who was recruited as a defensive end, started four years at defensive tackle. He closed out his career with 21 sacks, 31 1/2 tackles for losses, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. He was a finalist for the Lombardi and Hendricks Award (given to the nation's top defensive linemen) and was the first USC player since former Lion Chris Claiborne in 1998 named Pac-10 Conference defensive player of the year.
"I thought that was an outstanding pick, to be honest with you," Millen said. "I thought what this kid would do for us is give us great flexibility - inside and outside. He can [play] inside; he'll be able to rush, he can rush from the inside position and those guys are hard to find. He can also play end. He comes in right now and he gets right into the rotation and starts playing right away.
"I was really pleased, obviously, because we went up to get him. A player that talented, you have to go get him. The way we valued him and the way we looked at him, that's a great value for us. To give up a fourth in that spot is well worth it.
"I am excited about this pick as I was the first pick [USC wide receiver Mike Williams]."
Cody is versatile enough to play defensive end, but he said he's more comfortable playing inside.
"Actually, I talked about that when I was up there," Cody said. "Big Baby (Shaun) Rogers is going to take up some blocking and hopefully I will be able to get some single blocks and be single-teamed and make some things happen."
Lions defensive coordinator Dick Jauron discussed with Cody what his role would be on his pre-draft visit to Detroit.
"He saw me as kind of a swing guy," Cody said. "A guy who on pass downs can come inside and play the pass and on run downs I could play outside, too, or inside."
Millen said he wasn't concerned that the Lions, as the result of trades, have only four picks in this year's draft.
The Lions had one pick each in the first, second and third round. Barring a trade, they will have only a sixth-round pick today.
"Well, you would like to have more but the good news for us is that we don't have as many holes as we've had," Millen said. "Yeah, I would like to have 15 picks but we don't have them.
"I think more important than that is we went and got a guy that's going to help us right away [Cody]. He's going to jump right in."
Coach Steve Mariucci said the Lions have used their picks to move up in drafts and acquire players to fit specific needs.
"Other teams will have draft picks and then we don't have a lot of picks. Well, what did we do with those picks?" said Mariucci. "We took that fifth and we moved up to get [running back] Kevin Jones.
"Was it worth it? Yes it was. We took our seventh and we got [offensive tackle] Kyle Kosier, who has started a lot of football games - very well worth a seventh-round pick. What we did with those picks, and of course this one to move up to get Shaun Cody, we feel was well worth doing."
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