NFC West Writer
Kellen Clemens knows a thing or two about the ways of NFL quarterbacks.
The University of Oregon product played 12 seasons in the league, serving mainly as a backup for the likes of Chad Pennington, Mark Sanchez, Brett Favre, Sam Bradford and Philip Rivers.
Interested in getting back into the league, the Los Angeles Rams used Clemens to scout a potential backup quarterback — Georgia product Stetson Bennett.
“It helps Sean’s staff be efficient where we don’t have to send everyone out on the road,” Rams general manager Les Snead said about Clemens. “You send these guys out and somewhat act like you’re in a quarterback room and install and talk football and do that. He definitely came back thumbs up and it was cool.”
The Heisman trophy finalist got the green light from Clemens, and the Rams took Stetson in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft to serve as a developmental prospect behind another Georgia product, new teammate Matthew Stafford. The 25-year-old is the first quarterback selected in the draft by the Rams since Sean McVay took over the team in 2017.
Stetson was part of an NFL-record 12 quarterbacks selected through the first five rounds of the draft, the most in the common draft era. While not talked about as much as Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson or Will Levis through the pre-draft process, Stetson had a highly productive career for the Bulldogs.
A former walk-on, Stetson helped lead Georgia to back-to-back national titles. At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Bennett completed 65 percent of his passes for 8,429 yards, with 66 touchdowns and 21 interceptions during his college career. He also ran for another 530 yards and 14 scores.
Bennett played for offensive coordinator Todd Monken, now the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, while at Georgia. So, Rams head coach Sean McVay could see Bennett operating NFL concepts in Georgia’s offense.
McVay called Bennett a natural thrower of the football. And he spoke highly of Bennett’s decision-making, accuracy and ability to move while evaluating his game tape.
“He’s around great players, but he elevated those guys,” McVay said. “He sees the field well. You can see him processing things quickly and he’s a lot better athlete than people give him credit for. And I think there’s an edge to him that’s a positive. You want some competitors that have some stuff to him that things don’t always go well — they’re unfazed and they can kind of move on and be able to reset themselves.”
Going into the draft, the Rams had just one quarterback on the roster in Stafford. But along with Bennett, the Rams signed former Denver Broncos backup quarterback Brett Rypien and signed Dresser Winn from Tennessee-Martin as an undrafted rookie, so Bennett will have competition for the backup job.
Last year’s backups John Wolford and Bryce Perkins remain free agents.
However, Bennett has some similarities to another quarterback who played for the Rams last season in Baker Mayfield. The Oklahoma product signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency to compete for that starting quarterback job with Kyle Trask.
Like Mayfield, Bennett had his share of hiccups in college. Back in January, Bennett was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication. Officers responded to reports of a man banging on doors around 6 a.m. in a community of townhomes near downtown Dallas.
“It was a mistake everybody’s aware of,” Bennett told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this year. “I understand why that can’t happen. I’ve talked to coaches about it, talked to GMs. I apologized to my family. That’s who I felt worse about. I felt like I let them down, because no matter where I go now — and even without all this — I’ve got an obligation. I can’t do that if your last name is Bennett. And I know better.”
On the field, the Rams can look to their NFC West rivals in the San Francisco 49ers to see how a Day 3 quarterback selection can have a major impact. San Francisco selected Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy with the final pick in the 2022 draft.
Joel Klatt discusses Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who some regard as the “greatest college football quarterback of all time.”
The Iowa State product took over the team midseason after injuries to quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, leading the 49ers to an 8-1 record and the NFC Championship game.
It remains to be seen if Bennett has the stuff to play at the level Purdy executed in the NFL if called upon. However, like Purdy, Bennett produced at a high level in college.
“I’m a football player,” Bennett said after the Rams drafted him. “I love playing football. I love my teammates. I enjoy being in the locker room. I love trying to execute. I love competing against the best, and it helps when you have the best on our team. I think we do — not that I know that much, but when you’ve won a Super Bowl in the last few years, obviously you know what you’re doing.
“So, I’m excited to go learn. And it’s an honor that those coaches and GM thought enough to go get me. And now it’s my job to go get better every day.”
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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