Will helmet rule affect draft strategy?

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The NFL’s coaches and team executives apparently don’t yet know the specific contours of the new rule regarding the lowering of the helmet to initiate contact. They apparently won’t know how the rule specifically will be implemented until May.

There’s an argument to be made for knowing more about the rule a lot sooner than that.

A loyal PFT PM listener (a/k/a a member of the #PFTPMPosse) recently asked whether teams will know the full impact of the new helmet rule on the running game before the draft. They won’t — unless, of course, some teams have inside information about how the rule will finally look.

The Falcons, for example, should be grilling team CEO/Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay on the specific question of whether the rule will be applied literally and broadly. If it is, the running game necessarily will be impacted, since both running backs and would-be tacklers won’t be allowed to do what so many running backs and would-be tackled do between the tackles: Drop their helmets an instant before the point of impact.

If the running game will be de-emphasized by a rule that makes it harder to run the ball in and through the tackle box, that should be a factor when determining how to use draft assets. Quarterbacks, receivers, cornerbacks, free safeties, pass rushers, outside running backs, and pass-catching tight ends become more relevant; bulldozing running backs, fullbacks, run-blocking offensive linemen, run-stuffing defensive linemen, slow-footed middle linebackers, inside-the-box strong safeties, and blocking tight ends become less relevant.

Whatever the situation, teams should have known specifically what the rule would and wouldn’t allow when the rule was passed. As it stands, there’s a chance that teams will be using draft picks on players who will have less value if the running game ends up being less prevalent and valuable.

5 responses to “Will helmet rule affect draft strategy?

  1. Quite frankly, I think the NFL has handled this new “helmet rule” waaay worse than they’ve handled any personal conduct matters. I mean, why in the world would they issue such a vague rule and then wait for weeks, or perhaps months, to clarify it?
    It definitely gives the impression that it wasn’t that well thought out, and that they still don’t even know exactly what they intend for the rule to encompass. Coaches and players don’t have a clue how to apply the rule to the playing field, and the NFL is off twiddling their thumbs as the clock ticks toward mini-camps. The shark has finally been jumped.

  2. This is going to be insane come th season. Each and every red crew is going to see it differently regardless of how much tracing they have. I see it changing the outcome of many many games. First and goal, team is down 6 points and running back gets called for lowering his head. Along with the entire offensive and defensive lines. LOL it’s really not funny but quite possible

  3. As a Lions fan, if this rule de-emphasizes the running game, it’ll be perfect for us. We can’t run the ball now anyway, and we’ve made a living on throwing the ball. So we’d be happier there. On the flip side, our run defense sucked when Ngata went down, so…..

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