LOS ANGELES — The last time quarterback Stetson Bennett played a football game, it was at Sofi Stadium. There, he was a member of the Georgia Bulldogs and thrashed the Texas Christan Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship, 65-7.
However, the next time Bennett arrives at Sofi Stadium, he will not wear a Bulldogs jersey. Instead, he will wear one of the Los Angeles Rams as they drafted him in the fourth round with pick No. 128 in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Bennett is expected to be the backup for a fellow former Georgia Bulldog quarterback Matthew Stafford. He threw for 4,127 yards, 27 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in his final season with the Bulldogs and left the program as a two-time national champion.
Bennett rarely throws the ball into dangerous areas and often looks to make the most of each down. He is experienced, as he is 25 years old and is relatively undersized for quarterbacks at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds.
The Rams made several other selections in the draft, too. They started with center/guard Steve Avila, who played for the Horned Frogs in the National Championship against Bennett. They selected him in the second round with pick No. 36.
Avila was the first guard picked in the NFL Draft and is expected to be a starter quickly. The Rams’ offensive line gave up the third most sacks in the NFL last year with 59, and he could help them sure up the interior of their offensive line. He is a versatile lineman who has played multiple positions along the line in his football career.
“It’s great, I know, for an organization who can have an offensive lineman who can move around, and I take a lot of pride in doing so,” said Avila in his introductory press conference. “Hopefully, man, I just want to work as hard as I can and be where I can contribute the most.”
After Avila, the Rams selected Tennessee outside linebacker Byron Young with pick No. 77 in the third round. He is an explosive edge rusher who posted seven sacks and 37 sacks last season. Like Bennett, he will also be 25 years old as a rookie.
Young will join three-time Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) Aaron Donald and the rest of the Rams’ defensive line.
“I want to be a sponge and soak everything in,” Young said. “Anything [Donald] can teach me I can still use it in the long run if not that moment. I can’t wait to meet him and play with him.”
Next, the Rams picked Wake Forest defensive lineman Kobie Turner. Turner was not invited to the NFL Draft Combine, but that did not stop him from being selected in the third round with pick No. 89. He recorded a 92.2 Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade last year, the second highest among Power Five conference defensive players.
After Turner, the Rams selected Bennett before entering the draft’s third day. They had ten draft picks in the final three rounds because of compensatory picks and trades.
In the fifth round, they picked Appalachian State linebacker Nick Hampton, Georgia offensive tackle Warren McClendon, Clemson tight end Davis Allen, and Brigham Young University (BYU) wide receiver Puka Nacua.
In the sixth round, the Rams selected Nebraska defensive end Ochaun Mathis and Ole Miss running back Zach Evans.
In the seventh round, they picked Wingate punter Ethan Evans, Oklahoma State safety Jason Taylor, and Toledo defensive end Desjaun Johnson. Johnson was the last pick in the draft, making him this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant.”
The Rams addressed multiple needs without a first-round pick but devoted many of their selections to the “trenches” by drafting seven lineman/edge rushers.