The Los Angeles Rams needed to address their quarterback depth all offseason long, as former Georgia superstar and Super Bowl champion Matthew Stafford was the only one on the roster prior going into the 2023 NFL Draft. There was a question of whether the Rams would bypass other needs to look for someone who could sit behind Stafford and potentially play no part in the 2023 season, and it seemed like perhaps they wouldn’t after deciding not to trade up for Will Levis in round two and choosing not to draft Hendon Hooker with multiple opportunities.
But after general manager Les Snead added a fourth round pick by trading back twice on day two, he felt the opportunity to get a quarterback project was too good to pass on with that new selection for L.A. and now the Rams have two QBs on the team who both hail from the University of Georgia. They have combined for two national championships ... but both of those come from the new guy.
With the 128th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Rams selected championship—and controversial—quarterback Stetson Bennett. A move that has significant ramifications for the L.A. Rams, the fans, Stafford, Sean McVay, and most of all, Bennett.
Bennett, who began his college football career as a walk-on back in 2017, is one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in college football history in terms of team accolades, as he led the Georgia Bulldogs to two National Championships in his two seasons as the starting quarterback.
While Bennett is not very gifted physically, standing 5’11” and weighing 192 pounds, he is extremely gifted mentally, constantly showing supreme confidence and poise in the biggest games any QB is capable of playing in at the collegiate level. The amount of big games and big moments Bennett got to play in is extremely rare, as most quarterback prospects go their entire career without playing in conference championships let alone national title games.
My favorite thing about Bennett is the fact that he played in a pro-style offense in college, an offense that was based upon timing and anticipation, very similar to that of the Rams offense. Bennett showed an ability to go through progressions with relative ease in college, very rarely getting stuck on his first read if it was not there and seamlessly transitioning his eyes elsewhere.
One of his biggest fans, as you could have guessed, was Matthew Stafford. A top-ranked recruit in 2006, Stafford played three seasons at Georgia before going to the Detroit Lions as the number one pick in 2009.
Matthew Stafford congratulates @GeorgiaFootball’s Stetson Bennett after the game ❤️ pic.twitter.com/MwmYv22JG1— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) January 10, 2023
Another element of Bennett’s game that sort of gets overlooked is his ability to run the ball, rushing for 10 touchdowns last season and over 200 yards on the ground. His 4.67 40-yard dash is more than enough speed for a QB in terms of having the option to extend plays with his legs if need be, adding to his repertoire of things he can bring to the backup quarterback spot.
However, Bennett does bring some controversy and it was expected that he could go later than the fourth round. He was arrested for public intoxication in January, and he has been criticized—rightly or wrongly—for things like “bad body language” and “high opinion of himself” and the NFL Scouting Combine. An AFC coordinator reportedly said:
“He’s a talented thrower, man. He’s competitive. He’s got the ability to make all the throws. He’s a playmaker. He’s accurate. He has a high football IQ. He’s just undersized. You see bad body language. He has a super-high opinion of himself. He’s talented, but is he going to be one of those dudes that sits behind just thinking he’s better than everyone else?”
In my eyes, the Rams nailed this selection, nabbing a backup quarterback who is older in age and is innately confident, something that is vital for finding success if his services are ever needed throughout the season. As said before, Bennett’s experience in big games will allow for a less drastic transition to the NFL, especially considering the fact that he played in the closest thing to pro football in college in the SEC.
Experience seems to be a running theme in the L.A. Rams draft picks so far in 2023. Day two picks of guard Steve Avila, outside linebacker Byron Young, and defensive tackle Kobie Turner all bring a lot of age and experience into their NFL careers. It’s a sign that the Rams are expecting to rely on these players sooner rather than later.
McVay and Snead love the underdog story and the mentality that someone like Bennett brings to the NFL, and the undersized and underrated Stetson Bennett is no exception.
He believes in himself and his ability to play in the NFL and now he’s got a mentor in Stafford who will be highly motivated to show him how it’s done. That’s exactly what the L.A. Rams need at quarterback right now.