Player I: QB Stetson Bennett
Few 2023 NFL rookies are as polarizing as former Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett. That in turn has led to some passionate and sometimes rapid-fire discussions about the Rams' decision to select him with the 128th overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. Some fans believe the selection was made too early, while others believe that the selection of a quarterback before Round 7 was a wasted pick. But NFL GMs liked rookie quarterbacks on their draft boards, as eight quarterbacks came off the board late in Round 4 through Round 5.
Not many NCAA quarterbacks have matched the performance of Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett. While Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 204 pounds) was selected with the first overall pick, the two time national champion Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 192 pounds, and who defeated Young's Crimson Tide to win the 2021 NCAA National Championship, waited to hear his name called out in Round 4 with the 128th overall pick by the LA Rams.
Let's restate that. The two-time NCAA National Champion quarterback Stetson Bennett was the seventh quarterback selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. Here are two items cited in his draft profile that are particularly encouraging:
- "He’s rarely sacked and has the mobility to do damage outside of the pocket" - per NFL Analyst Lance Zerlein at NFL.com
- "Sees the field very well when the play breaks down and has the quick-thinking and football IQ to change plays at the line. Sprays the ball anywhere on the field, especially when given a pocket from which to deliver. Will step up into the pocket while looking downfield, reset his feet and deliver" - Per NFL Draft Buzz
Much more than a game manager
Some NFL draft analysts had lazily labeled Bennett as a 'game manager,' which is the category given to a quarterback who does not impact the outcome of a game directly, but rather one whose sole purpose is to avoid turnovers, hand off the ball, and make the occasional forward pass to move the chains and keep the offense on the football field.
The pressure to succeed at the NFL level at the quarterback position is incredible, and as such NFL general managers are prone to be ultra-conservative when selecting an NFL prospect to compete for an NFL starting quarterback role some day. Too many recall that Cleveland Brown experiment of selecting risky rookie Johnny Manziel, and the disaster that soon followed afterward.
While Stetson Bennett has his own set of off-field issues to overcome in the NFL, the situation is entirely different for Bennett. Bennett arrives to an NFL team with an offensively gifted head coach and a starting veteran quarterback from his Alma Mater. He is not expected to start in 2023, and likely not in 2024 either, so the pressure is off in terms of instant production. But best of all, Stetson Bennett shines best in the brightest spotlights, and there will be no brighter lights in the NFL than those shining in Los Angeles, California.
While some rookie additions to the Rams roster may see playing time instantly, others may need a year or two to make much of an impact on the Rams roster. But the Rams have their 14 drafted rookies for the next four years, or for as long as they deserve a sot on the Rams roster. That has a tremendous impact on the financial health of the Rams entire organization.