Born in Hacienda Heights, Southern California, on January 222, 1983, the 6’4 Shaun Cody had a storied high school career at Hacienda Height HS, garnering USA Today All-USA Defensive MVP honors. He played in the first ever U.S. Army All-American Bowl game on December 30th, 2000. Advancing to college at USC, he was a first team All-American for the USC Trojans. He was the first Trojan since Chris Claiborne in 1998 to garner Pac-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. The USC defense went on to shut down the Oklahoma Sooners in the ’04 Orange Bowl. Cody, along with Mike Patterson and linebackers Matt Grootegoed and Lofa Tatupu put on a defensive exhibition.
Cody had a good combine as well, with 34 reps at the bench press, a vertical leap of 30 inches and a 5.05 40 yd dash. Here’s how Robert Davis described him:
“Shaun Cody has been a big part of the resurgence of the USC football program. He has played inside and out for USC, mostly inside, so it has affected his ability to put up big stat totals. His 3 year totals at USC are: 85 tackles, 18.5 for loss, 11 sacks, and 4 blocked field goals. Through 10 games of his senior season, he has 9.5 sacks, as he has spent more time on the outside, having the freedom of rushing the passer more.
Shaun Cody is a football player, period. He isn’t a physical specimen; he just knows how to play the game. He knows how to get to the football whether he is lined up at tackle or end. He is a solid athlete, with the agility and speed to be a threat off the edge. He holds up well at the point of attack, and can shed to make the play. He brings a lot of versatility to the table, as he can play end in the 4-3 or 3-4, and may be able to play tackle in the 4-3. Cody also brings all the intangibles you want in a football player. He is very tough, plays hurt, and he is a team leader. He works hard on and off the field, and is the type of player every coach loves to have on his team.
Cody doesn’t really have any negatives in his game at end. He is not a freak athlete or have great speed, but he is above average in both areas. Some people rate Cody at tackle, and as a tackle, he lacks the pure bulk and strength to hold up at that position. He would need to bulk up if you are drafting him to play tackle for you.
Shaun Cody is a great football player. Whoever gets him is going to get a guy who battles week in, week out. I think he is a lesser version of Richard Seymour. He brings a lot of the skills Seymour does, he just is not quite as big as Richard is. Cody could hear his name come off the board towards the end of the first round, but he should be gone come the middle of the second.”
It was a good forecast. Cody went to Detroit with pick #5 in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft (pick 37).
The Lions traded up to draft Cody in the second round in 2005, one round after taking his college teammate, Mike Williams. Oddly, he participated in a series for Spike TV entitled Super Agent, in which a number of sports agents competed to work for him and negotiate his NFL contract (no joke). He also did a gig called Diary of a Rookie for BNET magazine, and may have gotten too invovled in media and not paid sufficient attention to his pro football career.
Cody has struggled to find his niche in the defense, in part due to injuries. He suffered a toe injury in ’06 that cost him most of the season, playing in only 6 games and spending the 2nd half of the season on IR. He also fought through a knee injury. Not only is Cody healthy now, but he came to camp about 15 lb lighter this year, making him a more appropriate size for the Broncos 1 gap schemes.
"I feel healthy," said Cody, who struggled last year. "That's the most important thing. I feel quicker. I feel lighter. I feel more in shape. The off-season was good for me."
After his signing in 2005, Cody has not really impressed. In 27 games he’s amassed only 55 tackles, 38 of them solo, with 1.5 sacks. However, if often takes a few seasons for a DE/DT to find his game, and many looked for this to be his breakout year. He’s down to 295 lbs. He has had an excellent camp, scoring a safety at the end of last game. Although he is thought at best to join the rotation, Cody has the potential to be an effective piece to the Broncos defensive puzzle. USA Today says,
“Cody has the tools to be an effective three technique, but has never been productive. He might've worked out better had he been drafted into a 3-4 and taught to play end. If cut, Cody would likely be snapped up quickly.”
"Now I know what it is going to take," Cody says. "I realized that if I wanted to keep doing this, I had to take it more seriously. I have to be a professional and work harder."
He’s probably down to his last chance, but he still has to ability to make it a great one.