New NFL Rules and Pro Day
It wasn’t all about Robert Griffin III and the Cleveland Browns last week – I tend to agree with the assessment that the signing is a low-risk move with a potential for a huge payout. There were a few other headlines that occurred within the NFL as well. First were the rule changes during the owners’ meetings and finally another great day for a likely early draft choice.
Touchbacks to the 25
The NFL approved to change touchbacks (on kickoffs) from the twenty yard line to the twenty five, on a one-year trial run. This will mimic the NCAA rule, which instilled this not too long ago. This is a dicey situation, as the league is attempting to reduce returns of kickoffs – however the opposite might occur. As far as the return team is concerned, five extra yards is a huge incentive to kneel down in the end zone. However, kickers (and kicking units) might now try to have the football land either in the front part of the end zone or inside the five yard line. This will force the opponent to try a return; a gain past the twenty-five yard line appears to be unlikely.
Two Unsportmanlike Penalties
Looking at the Odell Beckham Jr. / Josh Norman fiasco, as well as the Bengals / Steelers playoff game last season – the NFL is looking to reduce the number of unsportsmanlike penalties. One given to a player is fine, but the second infraction will lead to an automatic ejection from that game. Like the earlier rule, this could be problematic for the league going forward. It would not surprise me to see opposing teams try and bait a guy into a silly second penalty the remainder of the game (following his first personal foul). This could escalate the tension between the two clubs and more penalties could ensue.
Carson Wentz Pro Day
Hue Jackson was the only NFL coach in attendance, and once again the Browns were front and center at a quarterback’s Pro Day. Wentz tossed the football well (as expected) and also got to handle a wet ball, thanks to Pep Hamilton. Some of those throws were a bit off, but again that is not a huge surprise. I still prefer Goff with the second selection, however Wentz appears to be not a bad consolation prize.
Conclusion: The NFL continues to adjust rules on an annual basis. Some work out for the better, while others do not. While they are focusing more on player safety – these two changes might not produce the type of outcome they were hoping. Meanwhile, Carson Wentz appears to be solidifying his status as a top ten draft pick in this April’s draft.