NFL Draft: Rams grab Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett in 4th round
The Los Angeles Rams wanted to leave the 2023 NFL Draft with another quarterback, and made sure they got their man. The Rams selected Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett in the fourth round on Saturday.
The Rams used the No. 128 pick in the draft, having acquired that pick in a trade with the New York Giants on Friday. Bennett was the seventh quarterback to come off the board. He went one pick after the New Orleans Saints selected Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener.
Bennett turned in an excellent career at Georgia, exploding onto the scene during his third season. He was expected to be the team's backup heading into the year, but took over for JT Daniels after Daniels sustained an oblique injury. In 14 games, Bennett completed 64.5% of his passes for 2,862 yards. He threw 29 touchdowns against 7 interceptions.
After tossing two interceptions in a loss to Alabama in the 2021 SEC Championship game, Bennett rallied in Georgia's next two contests, leading the team to its first national championship in over 40 years.
Bennett returned to Georgia for the 2022 season, where he once again excelled, leading Georgia to a perfect 13-0 record in the regular season. Bennett's strong play continued in the playoffs, where he beat Ohio State in the Peach Bowl and then dominated TCU in the national championship game. Bennett was named the MVP of that contest after accounting for 6 total touchdowns.
Bennett finished the season with 4,128 passing yards. He threw 27 touchdowns against 7 interceptions. That performance earned Bennett a fourth-place finish in the Heisman voting.
Why did the Rams select Stetson Bennett?
The Rams saw the importance of having a promising backup quarterback last season. One year after leading the Rams to a Super Bowl title, Matthew Stafford battled injuries and was limited to just nine games. Even when healthy, Stafford showed some possible signs of decline. His yards per attempt dropped and he threw just 10 touchdowns to 8 interceptions in 9 games. The Rams' offensive line was miserable, so it's tough to know whether Stafford declined or if constant defensive pressure led to subpar numbers.
Stafford is expected to be the Rams' starter entering 2023, which should allow Bennett to learn the nuances of the NFL on the bench. If Stafford and the Rams struggle early, it's possible Bennett could get some work later in the season. Bennett, 25, is old for a rookie, so if the Rams view him as a starter down the road, the team probably needs to find playing time for him pretty soon. If not, it will be up to Bennett to prove he's at least an above-average backup quarterback in the NFL.
Why did Stetson Bennett last so long in the 2023 NFL Draft?
While Bennett's college resume is impressive, he faced some questions coming into the 2023 NFL Draft. Bennett will turn 26 in October. Anthony Richardson, who the Indianapolis Colts selected with the No. 4 overall pick, is just 20. Both Bryce Young and CJ Stroud, who went No. 1 overall and No. 2 overall respectively, are 21.
To further highlight that age gap. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will play the 2023 NFL season at age 26. Jackson has already played five seasons in the NFL, and has won an MVP, been an All-Pro and just signed the biggest total contract in NFL history.
Bennett also faced scrutiny after he was arrested for public intoxication in January. The incident occurred weeks after he led Georgia to its second straight national championship.