Senior Bowl’s Jim Nagy on Safeties Evan Williams, Kitan Oladapo

The Green Bay Packers drafted nine players who participated in the Senior Bowl, including safeties Evan Williams of Oregon and Kitan Oladapo of Oregon State.
Evan Williams after his Senior Bowl interception
Evan Williams after his Senior Bowl interception / Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Never in the history of mankind has a general manager stood in front of the media and said he regretted picking a certain player. After using fourth- and fifth-round picks on safeties Evan Williams and Kitan Oladapo, Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst was predictably excited.

For good reason.

“I know that everyone is skeptical when the GM gets to the podium and says, ‘You know, this was our guy,’” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy told SI’s Packer Central. “I know that Green Bay wanted these guys.”

Williams was a 32-game starter at Fresno State. After missing four games with a knee injury in 2022, he transferred to Oregon for his final season in hopes of playing against better competition and elevating his draft stock. As a fifth-year senior, he was a second-team all-conference selection. After playing more in coverage at Fresno, he was used more at the line of scrimmage at Oregon. He delivered 4.5 sacks and five tackles for losses among his 82 tackles.

“We got on Evan last year when he was at Fresno State. We had a scout at the game where he got hurt,” Nagy said. “This was a guy that a lot of teams were trying to keep quiet.

“We added him in December. He wasn’t part of the first wave of invites because we had to save some spots for juniors this year. That was a little different part of our process; you can’t invite the juniors until they declare [for the draft]. Evan was the guy that a lot of teams really liked. They were trying to keep quiet and they were hoping he’d slide under some radars. Just a good, instinctive football player. Puts himself in position to make plays, really dependable.”

What Williams didn’t have was ideal athleticism. While he posted an elite vertical jump of 40 1/2 inches, his 40-yard time of 4.60 seconds at the Scouting Combine is a bit below average for the position.

However, there’s stopwatch fast and there’s football fast. Scouts love it when those two numbers align. Williams, however, plays faster than his timed speed.

“In terms of physical traits, he’s not one of these elite guys (but) they took another good football player at safety,” Nagy said. “Safety is a highly instinctive position. Guys that can see it and anticipate can maybe make up for not running a crazy-fast 40 time. They just play faster because they see it quickly and they trust their eyes and they go.”

Williams didn’t have any interceptions during his final two seasons. In 2023, he only had one pass breakup. However, he showed his big-play ability with a touchdown-saving interception in the Senior Bowl.

“I can imagine Green Bay’s coaching staff really liked what they saw because this dude is coachable, he’s dependable, he’s where he needs to be, he’s smart,” Nagy said.

“He made a couple plays in the Senior Bowl. One of the picks he had in the Senior Bowl game where he ranged, he was outside the hash and got to the middle of the field on a throw by Joe Milton. His closing speed on that play – the competitive speed when the ball is in the air, he needed to close a lot of ground – and he could do it. He’s got really good ball skills.”

After selecting Georgia’s Javon Bullard in the second round and trading up in the fourth round for Williams, the Packers grabbed a third safety with Oladapo in the fifth round.

Oladapo earned all-Pac-12 honors his final three seasons. He had two interceptions and 10 passes defensed in 2023.

While Bullard is 5-foot-10 1/2 and 198 pounds and Williams is 5-foot-11 1/4 and 200 pounds, Oladapo is 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds. He is that quintessential box safety, with the size to play against the run and yet the athleticism and background (28 pass breakups his final three years) for underneath-coverage responsibilities.

“Kitan is different than the other two guys. Bigger, bigger man,” Nagy said. “He’s a guy, honestly, I could see maybe transitioning to being a dime linebacker. He’s a big, good-looking sucker now. Physical. If he doesn’t start right away, he’s going to have a role on Sundays in the kicking game. He projects to be a really good special teams guy. He’s got a lot there physically to develop.”

Did the Packers need three safeties after signing Xavier McKinney? Perhaps not, but this was a case of general manager Brian Gutekunst trusting his board.

“I’d like to think that we’re disciplined enough that even though we’ve picked a guy at that position, if the highest rated guy’s at that position, we’re not afraid to stay there,” Gutekunst said. “I think you can make a mistake maybe because, ‘Hey, we just picked a guy at this position. Maybe we should not take him, even though he might be the highest rated guy.’”

So, after letting three safeties walk in free agency, Gutekunst completed a sweeping remodel by adding Williams and Oladapo to McKinney and Bullard.

“Talking to those guys, Williams was a target for them on Day 3. Oladapo was a target for them,” Nagy said. “I know that Green Bay wanted these guys. So, that’s cool. The draft kind of fell the way they wanted. That’s the luck part of the draft is that the board kind of falls the way you want it to.”

Green Bay Packers Rookies

Rookie Camp: Day 1 | Broken toe for Oladapo | Michael Pratt | Tryout players

All-Star Scouts: Jordan Morgan | Edgerrin Cooper | Javon Bullard | MarShawn Lloyd | Ty’Ron Hopper

Triple dipping | Ranking undrafted free agents

Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.