The Los Angeles Rams took Georgia’s Stetson Bennett with the 128th pick in the draft, but according to a different quarterback, it could’ve been him who was taken in that spot.
Jake Haener of Fresno State said in a self-made video shared on Twitter by Alec Nolan of ABC 30 in Fresno, California, that “there was chance” the Rams were going to draft him had the New Orleans Saints not traded up to select him the 127th pick.
“Going through [the draft], you don’t really have an idea,” Haener said in the video. “[On April 28] we were hoping that the Saints, Lions and Rams were going to take me in the third because there was some talk that there was a high probability. But things didn’t work out yesterday,” Haener began to Nolan. “You’re sitting there, midway through the fourth, getting kind of worried because the Saints didn’t have any more picks in the fourth round.”
The Saints, who had already picked at No. 103, traded their 227th overall pick and 2024 fourth-rounder to the Jacksonville Jaguars in order to select again in the fourth round.
“But then all of the sudden, you get a phone call,” Haener said. “Then you see they trade back up to get you at 127 ahead of the Rams who, there was a chance I was going to go there at No. 128.”
Some pundits had predicted that the Rams were targeting Haener, with The Athletic calling him a “McVay-type player,” in reference to Rams head coach Sean McVay. In his mock draft, ESPN’s Jordan Reid projected the Rams selecting Haener in the fourth round.
“I’m super-thankful to go to a place where I’m wanted and where I can learn,” Haener said. “It’s just weird that I’m a New Orleans Saint now.”
Jake Haener Drew Lots of Praise Before Selection
Haener threw for 9,013 yards in his three-year Fresno State career. He is the school’s all-time leader in completion percentage and fourth in overall yards. He also was this year’s Senior Bowl MVP.
Draft analysts praised Haener’s field moxie, his toughness and his ability to process plays before the snap.
“Team captain with below-average size and arm talent, but above-average football IQ,” wrote NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. “Haener plays with a pre-snap plan and does a nice job of getting the ball out quickly against the blitz.”
Analysts Sound Off on Stetson Bennett Pick
Some pundits questioned the Rams’ choice at No. 128.
“Stetson Bennett has what it takes to be an NFL backup. But a fourth-round pick?” CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson wrote. “And the second quarterback taken on Day 3? It seems like the Rams could have attacked other needs with their next few picks — they had four in the fifth round — and then taken Bennett (or a similar prospect) at the beginning of Round 6.”
There was also the character concerns attached to Bennett given his arrest on a misdemeanor public intoxication charge in January 2023.
“New Rams QB Stetson Bennett a fascinating prospect. Some teams definitely had him as the No. 6 QB. He’s a baller. Maturity/character concerns were real on teams’ files, too,” said ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “But he goes to an ideal spot in L.A. as the first QB selected in the Sean McVay era.”
However, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated praised the pick.
“I got the sense coaches getting involved in the process with teams across the league raised his stock,” Breer wrote. “One I talked to thought he could go in the third and felt like he’d been stigmatized as a ‘walk-on.'”
Bennett played his final college game at SoFi Stadium, leading Georgia to the national championship over Texas Christian.
“L.A.’s a great landing spot for him,” Fowler wrote.