All Stetson Bennett ever wanted at Georgia was a chance to compete, but approach to getting drafted into the NFL might be different.
Bennett reportedly has declined the opportunity to compete with the nation’s top senior prospects at the Senior Bowl next week in Mobile, Ala.
Bennett told reporters last week he was considering the opportunity to play in the Senior Bowl, which would have drawn great fanfare with him donning a Georgia football helmet one final time.
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The Bulldogs will still be well represented, as tailback Kenny McIntosh, safety Chris Smith, offensive tackle Warren McClendon and kicker Jack Podlesny will be on hand.
McIntosh helped to carry the offense this season as a runner and receiver this season, while Smith’s heroics included a notable Pick-6 against Clemson in 2021 and a momentum-shifting 96-yard touchdown off a blocked field goal in the 50-30 SEC Championship Game win over LSU this season.
Hundreds of NFL personnel will be present at each of the team practices Tuesday through Thursday, including team owners, head coaches, general managers assistant coaches and scouts.
Bennett, widely projected to be anywhere from a fifth-round draft pick to a free agent, stood to make a strong impression with his intangibles and ability to pick up an NFL offense.
An NFL source said teams also had questions about Bennett’s coachability after the well-documented strain he explained had had working with Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
“Obviously we butt heads,” Bennett said this season.
OutKick-Fox reporter Trey Wallace said an NFL source liked Bennett’s intangibles, but suggest he would be a sixth- or seventh-round pick:
“Stetson is a unique quarterback; he doesn’t stand out when it comes to size, but his ability to scramble is what led Georgia to multiple victories over his time in Athens. I’ll be interested to see what some NFL teams decide to do when it comes to the draft,” one current NFL assistant coach told OutKick. “All the young man does is win football games, while having the ability to hit a receiver in-stride. He’s not a fifth-round QB, but somebody could take a chance on him in the last two rounds, if they need a winner.”
Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy told DawgNation he had been in discussions with Bennett about playing in the game the past week.
Teams running systems with mobile quarterbacks had an interest in seeing Bennett and TCU quarterback Max Duggan, who will be among those competing at the game.
The players will be coached by a staff made up of assistant coaches representing several different teams.
Bennett would have been placed on the team coached by the Chicago offensive coordinator, as the Bears are said to have interest in drafting another mobile quarterback to play behind Justin Fields.
Bennett, of course, left Georgia after the 2017 season because he didn’t want to compete with Fields and incumbent Jake Fromm.
Mel Kiper Jr. surprised some on Wednesday when he said Bennett would probably be a third-round pick.
That might have been enough for Bennett to decide he didn’t need to go through the week of Senior Bowl practices and play in the annual all-star game on Feb. 4.
Bennett has not publicly commented on declining the Senior Bowl opportunity, as the news was first reported by OutKick-Fox.