''It was really kind of, 'Who is this guy?''' Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew recalled.
The Lions found out who he was and liked what they saw.
Detroit selected Van Noy, an outside linebacker, in the second round of the NFL draft Friday night with the 40th overall pick after moving up five spots in a trade with Seattle.
''There were a couple teams that we thought were hot spots for him,'' Mayhew said.
Detroit dealt its second-round pick, a fourth-round selection and one in the seventh to exchange for the slot it used to take Van Noy and a fifth-round pick.
The Lions drafted Arkansas center Travis Swanson in the third round with the 76th pick overall. Detroit added Swanson to give the team depth behind Dominic Raiola, who it drafted in 2001, and another option at guard.
''His flexibility helps us,'' Mayhew said. ''He's big enough to play guard and he can play center as well.''
Lions offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn, who also played offensive line at Arkansas, expects Raiola to help Swanson develop on and off the field.
''He's unbelievable in our room as far as being a mentor to our guys and I would expect him to continue to do so,'' Washburn said.
The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Swanson, who is from Kingwood, Texas, was one of six finalists for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to college football's best center. He started 50 straight games. At the Senior Bowl, though, Swanson showed NFL teams he was comfortable playing center or guard.
''It's not that much different,'' he said.
Van Noy finished his college career with 226 tackles and played 13 games each of his four seasons. The 6-3, 243-pound Van Noy made 26 sacks, half coming during a junior season in which he also forced six fumbles. He could have entered the draft last year, but choses to stay in school and play for the Cougars as a senior when Ansah was a rookie defensive end in Detroit.
Detroit drafted Ansah with the No. 5 overall pick last year and he had eight sacks during his first NFL season.
''He and Ziggy are great friends, too,'' Mayhew said. ''They were roommates on the road.''
Van Noy said Ansah is ''like a brother'' to him.
''It's good to be back on the same team and to go to work and chase the Super Bowl together,'' he said.
After passing on a pressing need in the first round, Detroit addressed one with its first pick on the second day of the draft. Van Noy is regarded as an athletic, pass-rushing linebacker, just the kind of player the Lions need on defense.
''There were about three or four guys that we targeted and said, 'We've got to get one of these guys today,''' Mayhew said Friday night. ''He was at the top of that list.''
Van Noy, who is from Reno, Nevada, may have a shot to replace Ashlee Palmer in the starting lineup.
''We know he is going to contribute,'' first-year coach Jim Caldwell said. ''We know that right away.''
The Lions started the draft with a slightly surprising choice on Thursday night, taking North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron No. 10 overall. The franchise was expected to draft a defensive player in the first round, but decided Ebron was too talented to pass up.
Like Ebron, Van Noy is engaged. Van Noy plans to marry Marissa Powell, Miss Utah USA. Powell had an infamous response during the pageant finals last year, struggling with a paused-filled answer a question about why women earn less than men.
''It needs to be equal pay for equal work,'' she said a couple days later on NBC's ''Today Show.''
Swanson, meanwhile, has already walked down the aisle, marrying Emily Holder in March.
''The biggest thing it has helped me with is she's essentially my rock,'' he said.
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