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NFL insider hints new rule change may ‘dramatically’ impact 2024 NFL Draft

Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL made a series of rule changes that are expected to have a massive influence on how the game is played moving forward. However, one of those new rules could also have a sizable impact on the 2024 NFL Draft class and how picks unfold next month.

Among a series of rule changes made by the league during the NFL Owners Meetings, it was officially approved that the hip-drop tackle maneuver would be banned moving forward. In addition, the NFL ditched the traditional kickoff and replaced it with the version previously used by the XFL.

Related: 2024 NFL Draft order, picks by team

NFL players blasted the league for banning the hip-drop tackle, with many on the defensive side of the ball concerned that it will make playing defense even harder. This all comes at a time when the NFL admitted it is worried about a drop in scoring following last season. However, it’s a different rule change that could have a significant influence on the 2024 NFL Draft.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote this week that the new kickoff rule “could drastically alter” the 2024 NFL Draft, with teams making significant changes to their draft boards and altering where they will draft certain players because of the new format.

Related: 2024 NFL Draft quarterback rankings

Under the previous kickoff format, teams might prioritize elite athletes who could get downfield quickly and either make a big play as a tackler or as a returner. Similarly, the amount of separation between the kickoff team and receiving team meant more ground had to be covered and the hits were far more physical than a standard play. As a result, starters typically don’t play special teams.

All of that could change with the new kickoff rule. It will now be more similar to an offensive play, allowing coaches to design blocking schemes and moves while also getting more creative with their returners. As a result, certain positions could see the field a little more.

There’s an additional impact on players from the rule change. One-cut runners with great vision now have a much better chance of returning kickoffs. While a running back might not have elite speed, their ability to see the field really well and make the initial defender miss before cutting up the field will generate more explosive returns. As a result, those types of running backs could be pushed up a few spots on boards ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft.

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