ESPN mock draft projects Stetson Bennett to New Orleans: Why Saints would be good fit for Georgia QB
ATHENS — Stetson Bennett won’t be the biggest story among NFL quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, but he certainly ranks among the most controversial.
Bennett has a championship pedigree and a background of elite Georgia coaching expertise working for him with NFL savvy coaches Jim Chaney and Todd Monken among those who have tutored him.
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Of course, there are some who will point out that Bennett’s age (25), height (5-11) and recent off-field behavior work against him in the NFL Draft evaluation process.
Still, ESPN’s most recent mock draft projected Bennett as a seventh-round pick to the New Orleans Saints, which would seem to be a dream scenario for UGA’s two-time CFP Championship Game Offensive MVP.
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Immediately, some will jump to the success another relatively short quarterback had with the franchise — NFL legend Drew Brees.
Brees, to be clear, was slightly bigger than Bennett.
Bennett ran a 4.67-second time in the 40, compared with Brees’ 4.83, and the so-called “Mailman” had a 33.5-inch vertical jump to Brees’ 32-inch jump, and a 118-inch broad jump to Brees’ 105.
Bennett, clearly, tested out more explosive in the physical respect.
Brees came out of Purdue for the 2001 NFL Draft 6-foot tall and 213 pounds while Bennett was 5-11, 192 pounds at the most recent combine.
More importantly, Brees had a decorated prep career in Texas’ high schools largest ranks and set school and Big Ten records at Purdue, leaving the collegiate ranks as a much more polished passer and refined leader than Bennett.
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It’s certainly not fair to compare any prospect to Brees beyond size, as the former Boilermaker stands tall among NFL all-time greats as the second all-time leading passer and a former Super Bowl MVP.
But as Mel Kiper Jr. pointed out in January, some will make the comparison because of the players’ relative lack of height at the position.
“He’ll draw comparisons to Drew Brees — throw that out, doesn’t mean anything,” Kiper said, per USA Today. Because we’re always going to look at that six foot quarterback and say ‘If he’s accurate, he’s Drew Brees.”
Kiper, it’s worth noting, has been among the most bullish where Bennett’s draft stock is concerned, projecting him as high as the third round.
The Brees comparison becomes more relevant if New Orleans does indeed select Bennett or sign him as a free agent because Bennett would be working in an offense under a coordinator in veteran Pete Carmichael who has proven success working with a smaller quarterback.
Bennett missed out on a chance to give the Saints a good look at him when he declined an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, as New Orleans QB coach Ronald Curry was one of the offensive coordinators in the annual all-star game.
If the Saints want Bennett badly enough, however, that wouldn’t necessarily be a dealbreaker.
New Orleans signed Derek Carr to take over as its franchise quarterback this past offseason, but playing behind Carr would be another tremendous advantage for Bennett.
Carr is considered one of the most professional, disciplined and likable players in the league, setting an ideal example for any young quarterback.
Veteran Jameis Winston is also in the New Orleans quarterback room, another national championship quarterback who was once coached by Monken while with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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New Orleans’ quarterback depth issues have been well-documented as of late, as injuries have led to versatile tight end Taysom Hill taking snaps at the position.
There are 31 other NFL teams, of course, any of which could be interested in adding the outgoing Georgia quarterback.
But if you’re looking for a possible fit for Bennett, New Orleans would be among the teams that would seem among the best.
ESPN analyst Jordan Reid mock draft
No. 5 Jalen Carter, Seattle
No. 9 Broderick Jones, Chicago
No. 10 Nolan Smith, Philadelphia
No. 35 Kelee Ringo, Indianapolis
No. 45, Darnell Washington, Green Bay
No. 124, Kenny McIntosh, Baltimore
No. 137, Chris Smith, Buffalo
No. 193 overall, Warren McClendon, Washington
No. 227 overall, Stetson Bennett, New Orleans
WR Kearis Jackson
OLB Robert Beal
K Jack Podlesny
OG Warren Ericson
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