Lions defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant recognized on ’40 under 40′ list

Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Lions defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant is not a big secret around the league, but he has been recognized on a notable list of rising NFL people.

In the midst of his first season as Lions defensive backs coach, Aubrey Pleasant was noted on a list of rising young NFL assistant coaches put together by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

After the season, the proof was in that pudding when Pleasant interviewed for defensive coordinator openings with the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. Much like defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Pleasant doesn’t seem long for the coaching staff in Detroit.

Lindsay Jones of The Athletic (subscription required) has put together her NFL “40 under 40” list for this year, highlighting coaches, front office people and agents under the age of 40.

Pleasant is one of 11 in the assistant coaches section. Credit to Pride of Detroit for the citation of Jones’ words.

"Dan Campbell had never coached with Pleasant before hiring him for his Lions staff in 2021, but he respected from afar the work Pleasant had done with the Rams’ defensive backs,” Jones wrote. “What Campbell saw was a coach who could connect with veteran stars like Aqib Talib and Jalen Ramsey but also develop young unheralded players like Darious Williams.”"

Aubrey Pleasant has the makings of a future NFL head coach

Despite lackluster results for the Lions’ secondary last season, Pleasant drew rave reviews for his ability to connect with players. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye had a breakout season, while safety Tracy Walker had a rebound campaign and the best year of his career. He also coaxed solid play out of undrafted rookie cornerbacks Jerry Jacobs and AJ Parker.

Vikings’ head coach Kevin O’Connell interviewed Pleasant for Minnesota’s defensive coordinator post in February. At the scouting combine he highly praised Pleasant, via The Detroit News, who he knows better than most after they shared time on the Los Angeles Rams’ coaching staff.

"Oh, I think he’s going to be a future head coach in this league,” O’Connell said during a Wednesday media session at the scouting combine. “I think the next step in the process for him is coordinating a defense. Aubrey is so impressive to me. He’s always been.”"

The next step for Pleasant, most likely, is becoming a defensive coordinator. But he absolutely looks like a future head coach, and it could happen sooner rather than later.

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