SOFI DRAFT LAB – A little over three months ago, Stetson Bennett met Matthew Stafford for the first time when Stafford served as an honorary captain for the Georgia Bulldogs at the 2023 national championship game at SoFi Stadium.
On Saturday, Bennett learned he would be reuniting with Stafford after the Rams selected him in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
"Honestly, no, we were kind of caught up in the moment," Bennett said after being selected, when asked if he could've envisioned that scenario. "That was actually my first time ever meeting him. I grew up watching him and being a fan of Georgia and all, but no, but never could imagine."
Hearing his name called and getting that phone call for the Rams was a "relief" for Bennett, whose collegiate career began as a walk-on at Georgia and including a one-season stint at Jones College, then a return to and second stint with Georgia which saw him become a two-time national champion.
That longevity was viewed by Rams scouts as a positive in the evaluation process.
"What is unique about him, it was pleasantly unique," Rams Director of Draft Management J.W. Jordan said. "Like I said, like a lot of times when you watch a guy like that who's on a great team and has all these great players around him, and you watch him and you realize he's just handing the ball off. With him, what's unique is he's a winner, and he was what he was – not the main reason, but, you know, one of those. He led them, he legitimately led them to those national championships. He wasn't just there as part of the team, and that's what you look for, that's what you want."
"The other thing that having a longer career like that affords you the opportunity to see is how they're gonna handle adversity," added Kellen Clemens, who helped on quarterback draft work. "He gets benched in '21, and then comes back and then wins back-to-back national championships. So I think that affords you the luxury of being able to get a more complete picture maybe than somebody who hasn't faced that."
Is there satisfaction for Bennett being on the other side of that process of convincing teams that what he's done translates to the next level, and knowing that Rams head coach Sean McVay has bought into what Bennett has said about himself?
"I'm a football player. I enjoy playing football," Bennett said. "I love my teammates. I love the locker room. I love trying to execute, I love competing against the best, and it helps when you compete against the best on your team, and I think I we do. Not that I know that much, but obviously if you won a Super Bowl in the past few years here, you know what you're doing. So I'm excited to go learn. Yeah, I mean, it is an honor that those coaches and GM thought enough of me to pick me, and now it's my job to go get better every day."
Take a look at photos of new Los Angeles Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett from his time at Georgia.
Bennett knew the Rams liked him as a prospect because he said his agent told him they liked him. He knew of the Georgia connection with Stafford and the national championship game being played at SoFi Stadium, but other than that, he did know if going to them was a certainty.
When he did talk to the Rams, his takeaway from those conversations was that "they're really smart and I've got a lot to learn."
"Throughout the whole journey, I was trying to put my best foot forward," Bennett said. "This the NFL, really any team any organization, they're established. They are who they are, and they're the best of the best. And so just trying to pick up little nuggets, how they talked about things, why does it look so easy when it's not because I know it's not, but why does it look so easy for the best to do it. But yeah, just kind of how they have a grasp on – especially the offensive side, don't really talk too much about the defense – but just a grasp and an understanding of offensive football and just that I was excited if I got to go work with them."
And he'll get the chance to do that work with Stafford.
"He's obviously extremely smart, he's one of the most talented quarterbacks to ever play the game, and he's tough as nails," Bennett said. "All his teammates seem to always like him, and so I'm excited to just go in there, be quiet, take notes and learn."