For defensive players, rules change overdue

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For defensive players, rules change overdue

The NFL owners meetings have addressed a number of rules changes, as per annual custom, and among them is one involving safety of defensive players, too often disregarded.

The concept of defenseless players is usually applied to receivers stretching to make a catch. But now it is being expanded to include defensive players against crackback blocks to the head and neck.

One of the loud grievances voiced by defensive players is how the preponderance of concern is given to the offense by a league seeking to protect points-producers. Now it is illegal to deliver a blow to the head or neck of a defenseless defender, to go with it being already illegal to deliver a crackback blow to the knees.

Overprotective? No. These are life-altering hits in a sport filled with enough of them already. And the league sends a statement to its defensive players that their safety counts, too, which a number of them have long seriously doubted.

Several other measures of note came up for decisions as well:

No more one-possession OT games. The playoff test for according both teams scoring opportunities in overtime was judged a success and now it will apply in regular-season games. A team can win outright with a kickoff return for a TD but not a field goal, without the opposing team having a possession to answer.

Replay for all turnovers. Turnovers are the single biggest determinant of game outcomes. Now they will all be given a look to confirm. Ideally that happens quickly but now it will commence without an unnecessary stall for coaches to hear from their own booths and throwing the red flag.

Replay stays with field officials. The notion was advanced to have all decisions reside with an official in the replay booth. The final call will stay with the referee on the field, where it ultimately belongs.

BearsTalk Podcast: The three best defensive choices for Bears' first-round pick

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USA TODAY

BearsTalk Podcast: The three best defensive choices for Bears' first-round pick

CSN's Chris Boden is joined by Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin and J.J. Stankevitz on the latest BearsTalk Podcast.

The guys discuss the depth and flexibility the Bears have given themselves through free agency without a big-name spalsh. They also talk about reports of the Bears meeting with quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Finally, the crew gives their thoughts on who the Bears should pick with the third overall selection in the upcoming draft and where Jay Cutler will land.

Take a listen:

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Michigan State DL Malik McDowell

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Michigan State DL Malik McDowell

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State

6'6" | 295 lbs.

2016 stats:

34 tackles, 7 TFL, 1.5 sacks

Projection:

First round

Scouting Report:

"Has similar physical traits and abilities of Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, but may not share their football character. McDowell lacked production along the interior and could benefit from a move to a defensive end spot in a 4-3 or 3-4 front. McDowell is raw, but when he flashes, it can be blinding. McDowell is an explosive, ascending prospect with All-Pro potential if he grows into his body and takes the necessary coaching." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles