Packers: Jim Leonhard, Ejiro Evero top candidates for DC job

The Green Bay Packers appear to be a step closer to determining who will replace Mike Pettine as their defensive coordinator for 2021.

According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the likely “top two choices” are Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard and Los Angeles Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero.

It’s possible Leonhard is Matt LaFleur’s top choice. Silverstein added that many sources he’s spoken to “are convinced it is Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard’s job if he wants it”.

Many Packers fans will be pleased to hear that. Leonhard has done an excellent job as defensive coordinator in Wisconsin. While there would be some risk in that he’s yet to coach in the NFL, Leonhard does have plenty of NFL experience having played from 2005 to ’14.

Earlier this week, Lombardi Ave’s Parker Moes made a strong case for why Leonhard would be a great choice for the Packers.

Evero also has the potential to become an excellent defensive coordinator in the NFL. Unlike Leonhard, Evero does have plenty of NFL coaching experience.

He started as the defensive quality control coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007. In 2016, he was the defensive quality control coach for the Packers. Evero has been the safeties coach with the Rams since 2017, including this year when the Rams had the league’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense. LaFleur worked with Evero in 2017.

No matter who LaFleur hires, this is a great situation for the future defensive coordinator to step into.

Green Bay’s defense ranked ninth overall this past season and has a few star players to build around.

Edge rusher Za’Darius Smith has 26 sacks over the past two seasons, earning two Pro Bowl selections while also being named a second-team All-Pro in 2020. Cornerback Jaire Alexander was also a second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler this year, while defensive tackle Kenny Clark was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2019.

This defense also features a number of talented young players on the roster including Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage.

With some more offseason additions, this defense can take a huge step next season with the right coordinator.

Right now, it looks like it’ll be either Leonhard or Evero.