Former Pro Bowl Corner Praises Aubrey Pleasant: ‘A Natural Born Leader’

DeAngelo Hall

Getty DeAngelo Hall on radio row during the Super Bowl in 2020.

The Detroit Lions have one of the better young staffs in football, and though he might not be a household name now, Aubrey Pleasant could soon be part of the next wave in the NFL of coaches who see a major boost in their stock given what they can do on the field.

Pleasant is a defensive backs coach for the Lions, but like most who make it onto a staff in the NFL, he started from the ground up as a quality control coach early in his career. While doing that, Pleasant overlapped with DeAngelo Hall, a former Pro Bowl defensive back and one of the better cornerbacks in the league once upon a time.

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Hall might not have cared who Pleasant was at the time, but the young coach made an impression on the grizzled veteran quickly, which became clear when a story was shared by Hall about Pleasant from his time with the league. On an NFL TwitterSpace interview with Peter Schrager and Tom Pelissero, Hall told a great story about why Pleasant was one of his favorite position coaches in the league.

“Aubrey Plesant, he’s a guy who came up under Raheem Morris along with Kyle Shanahan and Mike Shanahan and Sean McVay. He was right alongside those guys, so he’s learned and picked up those same habits. He was a guy who started out on the offensive side of the football. I remember our first interaction,” Hall said. “He was just a little quality control guy. I can remember him working with the scout team. He’s servicing us on defense, the defense is out there trying to make plays, they’re servicing us, and his receivers were doing something a little funky. The secondary starts taking to Aubrey Pleasant. Most young quality control coaches would shut their mouth, take it. Aubrey Plesant just kind of said hold up there, started letting guys know ‘I’m not that one. I played the game, I understand the game.’ He went up and talked to guys and was telling guys, ‘I’ll whip you, I’ll whip you, alright D-Hall, I may have a problem with you.’ Pointed out some of the leaders of the secondary and was kind of complementary of us and was going in on our young guys. Instantly we knew this is a dude we can play for. He took a situation where guys were just on him and it could have been handled so many different ways. He made a joke out of it.”

As Hall went on to explain, Pleasant then moved over to the defensive side of the ball, where he became a personal favorite thanks to his communication skills.

“The next year he moved over to defense, and he became one of my favorite coaches. He understood the game and knew how to communicate it,” Hall said. “There was always times we’d have something on the board where a guy or two would struggle with it. Aubrey had this calming effect on the room where he was just able to dictate whatever was being said into layman’s terms so some of the other guys could understand it and pick it up. Just a great ball coach. Just a natural-born leader.”

Pleasant also quickly proved himself as a coach in Detroit. He got big results out of a much-maligned defensive back group most of 2021. While Jeff Okudah was lost to injury, the Lions were able to develop players like Jerry Jacobs, AJ Parker and Bobby Price while seeing the continued evolution of Amani Oruwariye into a league stud. All made plays down the stretch for the team in a big way, and Pleasant was a major reason why.

That likely would not come as a surprise to Hall whatsoever.


Oruwariye Defended Pleasant After Viral Moment

Fairly or unfairly, what most Lions fans know about Pleasant can probably be broken down by a short video clip. During the season opener, Pleasant was seen having a verbal disagreement with Jeff Okudah on the sidelines in one of the most viral moments of the season for Detroit early on. As to be expected, there is much more than meets the eye about Pleasant few people knew at the time of the exchange.


Jeff Okudah Gets GRILLED By Coach After Bad Play | Lions Vs Niners Week 12021-09-12T18:54:42Z

Quickly after the game, multiple Lions players came to Pleasant’s defense. Speaking with the media after the first game of the season on September 15 in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, Oruwariye was asked about the situation and provided a good look behind the scenes into what he thinks makes his coach special.

“I mean, I’m going to make it real clear. Everyone has particular relationships with coach Pleasant. He came here and really challenged everyone because he sees the potential in everyone. He really wants to light that flair under every single guy,” Oruwariye told the media. “He has a different relationship, different ways of going about that with everyone. At the end of the day, it’s two guys just wanting to be great. We have a great relationship with coach Pleasant. Of course, social media can make things be portrayed in a different way, but that’s really what it is. Everyone has a great relationship, everyone wants to win and really that’s what it comes down to.”

The explosive exchange made many on the outside wonder about Pleasant and how the Lions are being taught, but it’s very clear that the players are firmly in his corner for what he knows and how he teaches.

After hearing Hall’s account, it makes a ton of sense why Pleasant would be a favorite of the players, and also why the Lions have been able to develop young talent in the secondary like Jacobs and Parker.


Pleasant’s Career Biography

After growing up in Flint, Michigan, Pleasant attended Wisconsin where he was a three-year letter winner from 2005-2008. He attended Michigan as a graduate assistant in 2011, and from there was he team’s assistant defensive backs coach in 2012. In 2013, he coached with the Cleveland Browns as a coaching intern, then advancing to the Washington Football Team for the same role. From 2014-2016, he was a defensive quality control coach in Washington. He joined McVay’s staff from 2017 until his departure following the 2020 season as cornerbacks coach.

Pleasant is seen as a fast-riser in the coaching industry by many, as many have said that he could be a potential coordinator in the making one day. That looks to be the case after a solid first season in Detroit, and also after learning about the respect he has gained in the league.

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