Stetson Bennett NFL Draft 2023: Prospect outlook, strengths and weaknesses, potential team fits, more

The odds are significantly stacked against Stetson Bennett at the NFL level.

But the odds were stacked against him to ever see the field at the juggernaut that is the University of Georgia program, and now he’s a back-to-back national champion who threw 56 touchdowns to only 14 interceptions the past two seasons, cementing himself in Bulldogs lore.

How does Bennett stack up as an NFL Draft prospect? What are his strengths and weaknesses, and which teams would represent the best fit for the Georgia quarterback? Let’s dive in.

Prospect overview

We need to start where every NFL Draft prospect profile starts: the measurables. The combine will ultimately confirm or deny Bennett’s height and weight, but he’s listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, clearly miles away from the ideal modern-day quarterback physique.

For apt perspective on Bennett’s size, Brock Purdy measured in at nearly 6-1 and 212 pounds at last year’s combine. By NFL size standards at the quarterback position, Bennett is tiny.

Then there’s, of course, the age factor, which you’ve heard about since probably last season when Bennett took a secure grasp of Georgia’s starting quarterback job. He’ll be 26 years old in October. Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk offered this gem during the Bulldogs’ throttling of TCU in the national title:

For more remarkable, age-related Bennett nuggets, I suggest typing “Bennett older than” into the Twitter search bar. Even being fully aware of how old he is, you’re bound to come across a tweet or two that leaves you amazed.

You may be asking yourself — why does his age matter? Here’s the (justified) thinking: At 25, he is much more advanced in every aspect than 99.99% of his competition at Georgia this season. Also, the age limits his upside at the next level because instead of practicing, playing, and developing his game against others his age (professionals), Bennett mostly faced 18 to 22-year-olds during the 2022-23 campaign.

Despite his age, it’s not as if he started 50-plus games in college — only 32 to be exact. Those starts came under offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who has NFL offensive coordinator experience.

Those are the objective facts about Bennett as he enters the NFL.

Strengths

Bennett is very patient in the pocket. He demonstrated steadfast confidence in his offensive line — and rightfully so — especially in 2022. He was only pressured on 18.8% of his dropbacks. Related to that style of play, Bennett is willing to glide through his progressions, and full-field reads are not beyond him.

Monken’s offense was astutely designed to give Bennett a sensible order at which to get through his reads, and he often did so before ripping a strike at the intermediate level. At times, he was a little too comfortable in the pocket, which frequently led to him taking massive, avoidable shots. Bennett showed immense toughness in college, and while the ability to bounce back from a huge hit used to be a shiny badge of honor for quarterback prospects — and probably still is to some teams — most would advise against them at the next level.

When he needed to operate outside the pocket, Bennett was plenty capable. Designed rollouts were a staple of Monken’s attack, and Bennett demonstrated good ability to throw on the run with quality zip. Bennett’s not a statue, either. There’s some ad-libbing flair to his game — some twitch to elude a defender in last-resort scenarios.

At the intermediate level is where Bennett throws with the most accuracy and assertiveness, even through layers of coverage. He also loves the wheel route down the sideline and has a noticeably snappy release.

Weaknesses

Bennett’s arm is not brutal. By NFL standards, it’ll be average. There aren’t many times on film when Bennett showed he can really drive a ball through a super-tight window or stretch a defense vertically more than 20 or so yards. His tight, textbook release gets rid of the ball in a hurry, which helps alleviate some of the drawbacks of his weaker arm strength, but let’s just say Bennett will not be asked to make many out routes toward the sideline from the far hash in the NFL.

For as much as a super-sturdy offensive line helped the Bulldogs win two-straight national championships, it didn’t help Bennett learn how to calmly deal with and combat pressure for the next stage of his career. Against Missouri in 2022, the Tigers were ultra-aggressive getting after Bennett and were successful all contest; he looked completely out of sorts for most of the game. Against Florida, a team that could come close to matching Georgia athletically down the field, Bennett’s downfield accuracy and lack of arm talent were clearly apparent. While he was probably called “sneaky athletic” 400 times during his collegiate career, Bennett won’t be an improvisational, scramble-based type in the NFL.

He’s not that kind of physical specimen. Bennett also threw to an insane amount of open targets in college, and his stats were padded by a plethora of screens every game.

NFL team fits

The best chance Bennett has to succeed in the NFL is if he lands in an incredibly cushy situation — similar to what he was in at Georgia — on a team with a Kevlar offensive line and skill-position talent that has an advantage most weeks. . A head coach from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree, which grows every offseason, would be fantastic.

Of course, as a backup or QB3 to start, teams like the Jets, Packers, Rams, Browns, Vikings, Falcons, or even the Eagles would be logical, soft landing spots.

As far as scheme, plenty of schemed-open throws, RPOs galore, a dedication to play-action rollouts, and digs underneath clearing vertical routes would be nice. The whole attack does not have to be centered around dink and dunk.

It’s just that the type of offense Bennett has to operate to continue this magical ride of a football career must reduce his physical impact on the game and lean into his deceptive quickness, progression-reading acumen, and keen intermediate accuracy from an unblemished pocket.

He feels like a late Day 3 pick or priority free agent.

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