Chargers find a native to their liking

Chargers find a native to their liking

Growing up in Southern California makes it hard for anyone to leave. The weather, the surf, the fine delicacies of vision – who would want to leave such a place. The San Diego Chargers met with a native Californian during Senior Bowl week, seeing him as a perfect fit for the team they are building.

Teams running the 3-4 have been built around finding those tweener prospects that flourish in the defensive scheme. Some of those players have been found later in the draft, gems that 4-3 teams passed on because of measurables that weren't ideal while others have gone in the first round and became difference makers.

With the Chargers placing a priority on finding a defensive end for their 3-4 defense this offseason, USC defensive tackle Shaun Cody is close to the top of the list.

Cody made the rounds during his week in Mobile and garnered interest from a number of teams. He was one of the first player Chargers' college scout Ed Langsdorf pulled aside in Mobile and one of the first players to interview with the Seahawks in the Riverview Plaza Hotel.

He had just come from a meeting with the Bolts when he crossed our path.

‘You just came from a meeting with the San Diego Chargers, a southern California team. How nice would it be to join the Chargers via the draft and stay close in the area?'

"Hopefully, I love Southern California," Cody said. "I grew up there as a kid and have been there my whole life.

"Anywhere I can play football – it has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I just want to play professional football someplace."

Cody has been a force for the Trojans over his four year career. He capped off his career with an impressive senior campaign, registering 45 tackles, 13 for a loss, and ten sacks.

The 6-foot-4 Cody has also blocked five field goal attempts in his USC career.

He has experience playing both the inside and the outside but in a 3-4 alignment, Cody would essentially be on the inside as part of a three-man team of defensive tackles. Given his success at the college level playing in the middle of the line, Cody wasn't quite sure about the move, although he remains open for discussion.

"Most teams are looking at me to play defensive tackle. I played a little bit of defensive end this year but at defensive tackle, that is where I am more comfortable at."

When asked by Seahawks' representatives the most he had ever weighed, Cody responded with 300 pounds. He checked in at 293 in Mobile.

He brings the rare ability to generate pressure from a big man. Most are relegated to being run-stuffers that can plug the middle but Cody separated himself from the pack with 21 sacks in his career.

"He's awesome," Pittsburgh safety and USC alum Troy Polamalu said. "It's amazing how a defensive lineman is always around the ball."

His goal during Senior Bowl week was simple. He wanted to display the same hustle on the practice field that paved the way for his nominations to the Ted Hendricks College Defensive End Award, a finalist for the 2004 Lombardi Award, and a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award and Lott Trophy.

Thought of as a bit of a tweener who does not necessarily have the size or strength to play defensive tackle and is too big, while lacking the speed, for the end position in a traditional 4-3, Cody knows he can play in any system and flourish. The week of practice was his chance to prove it.

"Show the guys how hard I practice and how hard I workout as a player," he explained. "I am not going to blow anybody's mind with forty speeds or all different kinds of tests but I am hoping to show them what kind of player I am on the field."

Next up is the Combines in Indianapolis. He is training at Athletes Performance in Carson, California and hoping to take that next step.

As for the tests he spoke of, Cody isn't real keen on them. He prefers to have teams look at his production on the field.

"I think all of the tests are blown out of proportion. I have seen a lot of players test great who aren't great football players. You get a track guy and you train him, I am sure he is going to have a great test day but it comes down to playing football."

And playing football is what Cody does best.

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