Kirby Smart on Stetson Bennett and the Los Angeles Rams: ‘He fits their scheme’
The Los Angeles Rams made a surprising move when they selected former Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL draft to be the backup to Matthew Stafford, another former Bulldog.
And according to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, that was one of the best possible fits for the two-time national championship-winning, 25 year old quarterback.
“He’s talented. He’s a great athlete. He fits their scheme,” Smart said.
“I think Sean (McVay) liked him playing in (Todd) Monken’s system. There’s a lot of similarities there. He loves Stafford and he’s got a chance to learn under one of the best. I don’t think you could find a better fit for him.”
Smart said he spoke to several people in the Rams’ organization about Bennett, but head coach Sean McVay was not one of them.
General manager Les Snead recently said that the plan for the upcoming season is for Bennett to serve as Stafford’s backup.
“I would say on paper that that is our vision,” Snead said on the Rich Eisen Show. “Anytime you go into the draft, you never know with a quarterback, there’s only so many of them.”
Snead continued by explaining the benefits of taking someone like Bennett in the draft rather than falling into the “renting” strategy in free agency.
“But we did think that it could be very beneficial if we could find a young quarterback to develop as a backup. That way you don’t get into, let’s call it, renting QBs for a year. And also, with our cap situation, veteran backups do cost more in salary against the cap than players on their rookie contracts. So there’s a lot of variables in that.
But the vision was, hey, let’s try to find the best backup QB available, and if we can do that in the draft, that’s even more of a benefit to us. If not, we would’ve pivoted into a different direction.”
Obviously, Bennett is not actually young as far as NFL quarterbacks go. He’s 25 and will turn 26 during the 2023 season. But Bennett could still serve as an NFL backup for 10-plus years if he stays healthy. And you never know … I would not be shocked to see him seize his opportunity when his time comes to fill in.
In addition to Bennett, Los Angeles recently signed Brett Rypien to a one-year deal. The addition of Rypien, who is just half a year older than Bennett, gave the Rams three quarterbacks on the roster. They added another passer, undrafted free agent Dresser Winn, after the draft.
If Stafford stays healthy, Bennett likely will not play any meaningful snaps in 2023. His Rookie of the Year odds, per FanDuel, are listed at plus-10,000.
Bennett began his career in 2017 as a walk-on at Georgia, where he redshirted his freshman season. Prior to the 2018 season, he transferred to Jones Community College. He came back in 2019 to finish what he started.
In 2020, Bennett started five games but was nowhere close to being the Bulldogs’ trusted guy at quarterback. Come 2021, Bennett won the starting job early in the season after an injury to JT Daniels. He guided his team to a national championship win over Alabama in the 2021 season to bring home Georgia’s first trophy since 1980.
Bennett opted to return to UGA in 2022 where he led the Bulldogs to a 15-0 record, which included both an SEC championship and a second consecutive national championship win. He finished fourth in Heisman voting. In 2022, Bennett threw for 4,127 yards, 27 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He rushed for an additional 10 touchdowns.
Bennett’s career stats are 601 of 923, 65.1%, 8,428 yards, 66 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, 530 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.