After a sublime college career, is Stetson Bennett an NFL quarterback?

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — He’s 5-foot-11. At least that’s what the Georgian side say about Stetson Bennett. So maybe he’s not even that big. He also states that he weighs 190, which contributes to his speed and quickness, but he is light by football standards.

It certainly didn’t matter at the college level.

Bennett ended one of the greatest careers in college history here Monday by leading the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships with a 65-7 loss to TCU.

Bennett went 18 of 25 for 304 passing yards and four touchdowns and 39 extra yards and two rushing touchdowns.

He was absolutely phenomenal. If Bennett stood, say, 6-3, we would be talking about him as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He doesn’t. As such, no one knows if he can even Craft the NFL.

Maybe it’s because of his height or maybe as a lingering doubt that he was originally a walk-on from Georgia, who then left for college, only to come back and make sure that the program tries to recruit him every year. He was perpetually questioned, even by his own coaches.

“People slept on Stetson Bennett for a long time,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “He needs an opportunity to play long at the next level.”

He might not quite look like an NFL quarterback, but he doesn’t look like an SEC quarterback either, and he ended up dominating this league.

No one is arguing that Bennett should be first overall. However, the guy who might be Bryce Young from Alabama, a lightweight 6-footer, not much bigger than Bennett.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett celebrates a victory over TCU in the CFP National Championship game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif.  Georgia won 65-7.  (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett celebrates a win over TCU in the CFP National Championship game on Monday, capping a college career with two straight titles. Georgia won 65-7. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Also, no one expects him to become a franchise quarterback. A replacement though, a guy who develops and contributes, maybe the next Chase Daniel, who at 6 feet isn’t much taller than Bennett but has been in the league for 14 years (and counting)?

ESPN research indicates that since 2006, only three quarterbacks under 6 feet, 200 pounds have even been drafted – Armanti Edwards of Appalachia State (third round, 2010), Denard Robinson of Michigan (fifth round, 2013 ) and Navy’s Malcolm Perry (seventh round, 2020). There’s also Kent State’s Julian Edelman (seventh round, 2009).

Each has become a wide receiver in the NFL.

Bennett is fast. He’ll likely register a 4.5 40 at the NFL combine, so maybe he could make the transition as well. Or maybe he stays where he is.

His trainers say he is especially strong in pre-snap reads. “Some of the checks he made, some of the decisions he made [against TCU]just really elite,” Smart said.

He is precise. It has a quick release. Above all, he makes good decisions. He’s 29-3 as a starter, and that’s partly because he’s surrounded by outrageous talent — tight end Brock Bowers (157 yards) could still roll on the streets of Los Angeles . Still, he made several NFL throws on Monday.

“The fact that he’s playing in an NFL offense for an NFL coordinator [who coached] NFL quarterbacks should tell people he’s not going to have marbles in his mouth spitting out seven-word calls,” Smart said. “A lot of NFL teams like that.”

Some of its weaknesses are also incorporated. He’s always been ‘small’, so the way he plays makes up for that – the sense of avoiding shots, changing arm angles to avoid deflections.

It’s better than being an inaccurate passer who can’t adapt to the smaller windows and faster defensive backs of the next level.

Bennett, 25, thinks he’s an open book at this point. Some teams won’t like it, others might, but it’s all there to be seen.

“I’ve been around long enough, I’m sure there’s a playing tape,” he laughed.

As for what he would say to the NFL, he mostly shrugged.

“Hard worker,” Bennett said. “Pretty good at football. Smart. But they’ll see it. It’ll take care of itself.

There’s no doubt that Georgian cornerback Kelee Ringo will play in the NFL. He’s an elite prospect and a potential first-round pick. Over the years, he’s faced a slew of first-round quarterbacks (including Bryce Young, CJ Stroud and Will Levis, the top-rated QBs in this draft class). He also worked against Bennett in training. He doesn’t see much difference.

“I know he has a lot of doubts, but seeing him day to day, I think he can be an NFL quarterback,” Ringo said. “Yes sir.”

It seemed implausible when, as an extra, he saw so little future in Georgia that he left for the JUCO ball, or when he nearly signed with Louisiana before a last-minute call brought him back to Athens. Bennett himself said he wouldn’t have believed it.

Yet here we are at the end of Stetson Bennett’s college story, one of the greatest and grandest ever written.

This may not be the end of his football career. Stetson Bennett needs a job, and the NFL might not be such a far-fetched idea anymore.

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