It might not cause folks to start ripping up their mock drafts, but the NFL’s accepted rule changes for this upcoming season are going to alter the way some teams approach the 2024 NFL Draft.

The NFL announced the adoption of several rule change proposals, bylaws and resolutions Tuesday. If you want a full list, we’ve already provided one, but this is all about focusing on two of those alterations: the “hybrid kickoff rule” and banning the hip-drop tackle.

It isn’t all that difficult to see how they might change things for teams entering the draft, including the Patriots.

Let’s start with the kickoff rule because it’s pretty simple. If you look at New England’s process for finding special teamers, they’ve primarily focused on “gunner” types. Matthew Slater, Brenden Schooler, Keion Crossen and Justin Bethel are all recent examples of guys who excelled on kickoffs. That’s no longer going to be the primary focus on those plays, though, and while there’s still a spot for speedy guys on punt units, it’ll be less of a focus on kickoffs.

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It’s all about shedding blocks and making tackles now, with specialists lining up just five yards away from the opposing unit under the new rules. If you want someone to work in traffic, those undersized linebackers that you always see in college football? They might have a better shot at making rosters. Cassh Maluia, Ramon Humber, Cameron McGrone and Christian Sam are recent, Patriots-adjacent examples for you.

It’s a completely different type of player, who previously didn’t have a great shot at securing a roster spot, that will be more coveted now.

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The NFL’s decision to ban the hip-drop tackle, as ridiculous as it was, will have a huge impact on how offenses approach short-yardage situations. If you’re unable to tackle a guy, how do you stop someone from just getting him the ball in space and letting him eat yards?

It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see teams value bigger slot receivers and tight ends more this season than we’ve seen in the past. If you can drop it off to someone that weighs north of 230 pounds in the flat, the onus is now on a 185-pound nickel back to try and stop them. Can you imagine how much this would have helped N’Keal Harry? Many are saying he was before his time.

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In all seriousness, trying to stop Sam LaPorta, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel is going to be nearly impossible for those smaller cornerbacks. South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette — who is built like a linebacker, Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley and Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott are perfect examples of guys who will thrive in those kinds of roles.

This isn’t going to hurt any of the top prospects, of course. Legette isn’t a better prospect than Marvin Harrison Jr. all of a sudden, but it might give him a slight edge over a couple of guys who also are in the second-round range.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Patriots address this draft anyway, but with new rules, could things have changed?

Featured image via Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports Images