College Coach on Packers S Evan Williams: ‘Favorite Player I’ve Ever Coached’

Oregon co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Hampton spoke incredibly highly of Evan Williams, a fourth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers.
Oregon safety Evan Williams (33)
Oregon safety Evan Williams (33) / Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Oregon co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Hampton has been coaching for more than 15 years. He spent only one season with Evan Williams, a fourth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 2024 NFL Draft.

That one season left an indelible impression. The Packers drafted an “unbelievable” player and person, Hampton said.

“One of a kind,” Hampton told Packer Central. “He really is my favorite player I’ve ever coached.”

Williams spent his first four collegiate seasons at Fresno State. In hopes of bolstering his draft stock, he transferred to Oregon in 2023. That was Hampton’s first season in Eugene.

“He’s got it. He really does,” Hampton said. “He loves the game. He’s going to work extremely hard. He’s going to be a gym rat. He’ll always be around the facility. He’s like an Ivy League guy. I don’t think he likes people knowing that, but he’s really smart. Like really, really smart; highly intelligent.

“He has nothing off the field, like no type of issues, no character flaws. He’s a high-character guy. He’s a joy to coach and a really good football player. A quiet leader. Tough. Man, I can’t say enough how tough he is and how much he loves the game and loves to compete. He’s really hard on himself. He’s got a really high standard for himself.”

A three-year all-Mountain West performer at Fresno State, Williams was second-team all-Pac-12 in 2023. Where did he grow in their season together?

“In his one year, I think he became a better tackler,” Hampton said. “I think he grew in our scheme as far as he came in and adapted quickly. He had really good adaptability. He had been here a few weeks and it was like he was a vet in the program and was a leader and led by example. He led in all the offseason drills and conditioning. I thought he was just like a pro. Everything about him was a pro’s mentality.

“I don’t know if he had that at Fresno or not, but he definitely had it when he was here. He was like no management. He was low maintenance, high performance.”

Williams showed a lot of versatility during his five seasons. At Fresno State in 2021, he had three interceptions and nine passes defensed. In 2023, he had only one pass defensed but 4.5 sacks and five tackles for losses among 82 tackles.

“He’s an unbelievable blitzer,” Hampton said.

While the ball production wasn’t there in coverage in 2023, PFF charged him with a 73.0 percent catch rate but just 8.1 yards per reception.

“I think he’s a good cover guy,” Hampton said. “He’s going to be able to match up on the slots, on tight ends and things of that nature. He’s got really good ball skills, as well. Played a lot of the year with a broken thumb; had a huge cast on him. He was tough and didn’t complain. Practiced in it every day, played with it, no issues.

“I think he’s the type of guy you want. I think he’ll have a long NFL career, I really believe that. I think he’s going to play multiple years.”

The slot-coverage ability referenced by Hampton also was mentioned by general manager Brian Gutekunst during the draft. According to PFF, Williams last season played 290 snaps in the box, 271 snaps deep and 165 in the slot.

“I think he can do a lot of different things, I really do,” Hampton said. “He can be a big nickel, be able to cover the slot and support the run. I think that’s what he’s going to be able to do: be a good slot cover guy and also support the box and make tackles. I could see him one day becoming a starter. I don’t know how the roster looks this year, but I think he’ll be an NFL starter.”

Williams was the second of three safeties drafted by the Packers. A late addition to the Senior Bowl, he was voted the National Team’s top safety by the American Team; Packers second-round pick Javon Bullard was voted the American Team’s best safety by the National Team.

Having sent several players to the NFL during his coaching career, why does Hampton believe Williams is going to have a long and successful career?

“I think because of his football IQ and his business-like approach,” Hampton said. “He’s not a guy that’s going to get to the NFL and then change his work habits. He’s an unbelievable worker. So, I think he’s going to last.

“I’ve had quite a few DBs who made it and this guy’s got it. He’s got the work ethic, the resiliency. He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s instinctive, he can tackle. He’s going to be a great communicator on the field. I think he’s an NFL safety. He can blitz, he’s going to be able to tackle in the open field, make all the checks. He’s going to be a great special teams player. He’s going to play for a long time. I wish we had him again.”

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Bill Huber

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: packwriter2002@yahoo.com History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: https://twitter.com/BillHuberNFL 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 PackerReport.com. 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.