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Colts drafted fifth-round receiver Anthony Gould with new kickoff return rule in mind

The NFL's new kickoff rule makes returners more important, and that helped boost wide receiver Anthony Gould's draft stock.

Gould was an All-American punt returner at Oregon State, and Colts General Manager Chris Ballard said that when they watched film of him returning punts, they thought he was a great fit for the skills that will be needed to return kickoffs under the new rules.

"This new kickoff return rule is going to change some things," Ballard said. "It's a little bit of an unknown right now but we think he's got – he's an explosive player with the ball in his hands, he has had a lot of success in college returning punts and he's a pretty good wideout so excited to get him."

Colts special teams coordinator Brian Mason loves what Gould can bring to the table.

"I think Anthony being one of the top punt returners in college football is really exciting to get him to join our group. That skillset is something that we can use in the new kickoff model," Mason said. "It's going to be a little bit different than your traditional kickoff return rep where the kickoff returner might have had a bunch of space to be able to build up speed and be able to make his cuts. There could be a lot more confined space, punt return, punt returner-type of cuts and moves that are made. You look at more running backs or punt returners being used in some of those positions."

The new kickoff is one of the biggest rule changes in NFL history. The teams that can figure out the right players and the right strategies to succeed are going to be at a big advantage, and a player who can make a difference on kickoffs is easily worth a fifth-round pick.