The popular pro football video game Madden hits the shelves on August 23rd, with the latest edition being Madden 17.
With the anticipation and hype of the video game franchise ballooning thanks to the start of NFL training camps and preseason action, there has been plenty of conversation surrounding new gameplay, modes and of course, player ratings.
The latter has made waves in the past week, with the full list of Madden 17 player ratings being made available to the public. Things could change by the time preseason wraps up and rosters are updated, but for now everyone can see how the Madden 17 developers (or whoever it is that is behind the rating process) views some of the game’s top stars.
Are players properly rated when it comes to speed, strength, accuracy and the like? In most cases, we’d say Madden 17 nails the player ratings fairly well, as they usually do. However, there are definitely some interesting Madden 17 player ratings that we felt were necessary to point out, and at least in our opinion, were a little disrespectful.
Let’s go over the biggest misses:
Note: We’re sticking with big name offensive stars, just because they’re more well known to the general public.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns (Overall: 76)
I get the logic behind hosing Josh Gordon with a weak player rating here. He has missed a ton of time with suspensions, he should be rusty when he finally gets back, he’s unreliable and the last time he played he wasn’t exactly elite.
But Gordon has been an elite player, is still young and still boasts all of the upside in the world. From a physical and past production perspective, this is a terrible rating.
If Madden 17 wants to give him awful awareness, maybe decrease his injury likelihood or even add a special “will probably do drugs and get banned for life” attribute, I’m all for it. But rating Josh Gordon below teammate and rookie Corey Coleman, as well as guys like Willie Snead, Brandon LaFell, Stevie Johnson and Cole Beasley, well, it’s just laughable.
Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions (Overall: 76)
Madden always rates young players well due to youth, physical ability and upside. It only makes sense, as it’s impossible to know which college stars will put it all together – and how quickly. Ebron was a prime example of that last year, but he has a weak Madden 17 rating this time around because…he didn’t dominate the league?
This rating makes no sense, especially when you compare it to inferior talents and producers like Vance McDonald, Luke Willson and Virgil Green – a dude who literally has 35 catches in five seasons. Ebron 47 catches just last year, added five touchdowns and is just as physically gifted as Green or really any other tight end you could name.
Ebron did hurt his lower leg right before this article was written, but the Madden 17 ratings aren’t taking that into account. In fact, judging by this lazy rating and the talent graded higher than Ebron, it doesn’t look like a whole lot of logic of any kind went into this one.
Something called a Nick Boyle – a blocking, plodding tight end for the Ravens – has the same exact rating as Eric Ebron. Criminal. Just criminal.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (Overall: 80)
Okay, here’s our first questionable Madden 17 player rating that could really go either way. Zeke is already rated pretty well for a rookie and there probably isn’t a whole lot of ceiling left here without flat out predicting this guy is going to be the next Adrian Peterson.
However, he was the 4th pick in this past year’s draft, will be the main man behind an elite offensive line that for one year turned DeMarco Murray into a God and the dude absolutely dominated at Ohio State.
Elliott’s rating by itself certainly isn’t bad, and perhaps is even appropriate. However, when you look at his talent and upside and still note that guys like Danny Woodhead, Theo Riddick, Shane Vereen, Darren Sproles, Charles Sims and Thomas Rawls are all rated the same or better, you start to wonder what is wrong in the world.
Arian Foster, RB, Miami Dolphins (Overall: 81)
Arian Foster’s poor Madden rating makes some sense, as he did suffer a ruptured Achilles tendon last year. However, he really didn’t show much in the way of regression prior to that nasty injury, so it’s a bit startling to see such a dramatic drop-off for a guy who has been one of the league’s best talents pretty much during his entire NFL career.
We can see a mild speed decrease, a bad injury rating or mild dips in a few of his attributes, but this guy is still technically in his prime and is one of the most complete backs we’ve ever seen. Rating him below Danny Woodhead, Charles Sims and even Ryan Mathews just doesn’t seem fair.
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens (Overall: 81)
Are we really rating Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks with rocket arms and killer pocket presence negatively these days? Flacco’s harsh grade comes on the heels of a disgusting 2015 campaign that saw him tear his ACL prior to losing every able body around him to injury, as well.
Nothing went right for Flacco and the Ravens last year, but the year before he posted his best numbers ever (27 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards). At 31, Flacco is returning to full strength and in his prime, so there’s a lot of optimism going forward.
It’s true that he’s not a huge stat guy and you don’t want him necessarily in fantasy football, but Flacco is being ridiculously disrespected with this weak rating. Madden 17 grades him worse than Jameis Winston, Tyrod Taylor and Kirk Cousins, while he shares the exact same player rating as Teddy Bridgewater. This is all a joke, right?
David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (Overall: 83)
You won’t come across many people who weren’t impressed with David Johnson during his rookie season last year. Even before he had a monster role with the Cardinals he was a do-it-all threat who racked up seven touchdowns before seeing his first start.
Once he was handed the reigns of Arizona’s backfield, Johnson basically took over the league, putting up four 100+ yard games and five scores over the final five weeks of the regular season.
If we’re to believe in Johnson’s elite ability and upside, it’s tough to buy a mediocre 83 Madden rating. That places him behind guys like C.J. Anderson, Giovani Bernard and Jonathan Stewart, and that doesn’t seem accurate.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants (Overall: 83)
Much like Joe Flacco got hosed, so did Eli Manning. It’s true that he hasn’t helped the G-Men get to the playoffs lately, but the guy still put up mammoth-sized numbers in 2015 and has won two Super Bowls.
By all accounts, Manning is in top form ahead of the 2016 season and after tossing 65 touchdowns over the last two years, it’s tough to hand all of New York’s misfortune squarely on him. Manning is slowly exiting his prime at 35 years of age, but he can still sling it, has a nice system and has some elite weapons at his disposal. No one hates his pouty face more than this guy, but Madden got it wrong here.
Manning shares a mediocre 83 Madden rating with Kirk Cousins and Derek Carr and is graded below Matt Ryan, who has been a shell of himself over the last few years. Manning doesn’t deserve a steep upgrade, but he’s better than what Madden is making him out to be.
Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars (Overall: 83)
Everyone assumed Julius Thomas was a product of Peyton Manning after scoring 24 touchdowns in his last two years in Denver, but he quickly proved that wrong with 46 catches and five scores in just 12 games with the Jaguars in 2015.
Thomas was coming off of a hand injury and dealing with an entirely new environment, yet he still put up solid numbers in just 12 games. None of that takes away from his sheer athletic ability and past production, either – all of which suggests he’s closer to the elite tight ends in the league than the mediocre ones.
With guys like Jermaine Gresham (what?), Coby Fleener, Charles Clay and Martellus Bennett all rated above him, it feels like Thomas isn’t getting his due.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers (Overall: 84)
Rivers’ story is very similar to Eli Manning’s, as he’s been trying to keep a sinking ship afloat, pretty much all by his lonesome. Still an elite passer by most regards, Rivers is a master inside the pocket, is insanely accurate and is as fiery a leader as they come.
Rivers can’t help it that he’s gotten older and his Chargers team around him isn’t that great. He individually, however, is arguably as good as ever and his insane production over the last few years is a testament to that. His 84 Madden rating isn’t atrocious, but Rivers should be closer to 90 than 80.
Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams (Overall: 85)
There truly might not be a worse player rating in all of Madden 17 than that of Todd Gurley’s soft 85. We’re talking about a kid who dominated at Georgia, was a first round pick, boasted elite talent and then overcame a torn ACL to absolutely shred the NFL as a rookie.
In just 13 appearances (12 full games), Gurley piled on nearly 1,300 total yards and 10 scores, all while losing just one fumble and rushing to the tune of 4.8 yards per carry. Gurley did this all in the deadly NFC West and with little to no threat out of his passing game.
This was just what Gurley did as a rookie rusher, too. The talent, role and upside is all there for Gurley to take over the as the league’s top running back, yet Madden 17 player ratings have him graded below Jonathan Stewart, Devonta Freeman, Lamar Miller and tied with Giovani Bernard.
Gurley should be a 90 at the minimum and has a strong argument to have the top Madden 17 rating of any running back.
Reggie Bush, RB, Buffalo Bills (Speed: 86)
We won’t waste much time here, as it’s fair that Reggie Bush has been downgraded from an overall perspective. He is 31 years old and hasn’t been able to stay healthy over the last two years, after all.
That has nothing to do with the dude’s speed or athleticism, though. By all accounts, he has looked as spry as ever despite those injuries, and upon signing with the Bills in August, he quickly exhibited his trademark burst:
You can tell us Bush is older, no longer a legit feature back and maybe more injury prone than ever. But don’t downgrade the man’s speed.
Note: Actually, this is the perfect time to chime in on a serious problem with Madden 2016 and all Madden games: their rapid speed regression for aging players.
It’s true that players lose speed and athleticism on the average as they age, but we have two major problems with Madden’s logic: the idea that every single player loses these attributes as they age and the insanely fast rate it occurs at.
In last year’s Madden game, pretty much when a guy turned 30 his numbers were across the board in sharp decline. Once he was in his mid-30’s, even if he once had 90+ speed, it would randomly be at 77 or often even worse.
That’s just not realistic, and even if it is for some cases, assuming it is for all – or specifically the elite of elite players – is just lazy.
Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets (Speed: 86)
The story is similar here, although the last time we saw Forte, he was still looking plenty good with the Bears. We personally didn’t notice a sharp decline in his speed in 2015, when he easily put up over 1,100 total yards and seven scores in just 13 games.
Forte continues to be one of the most explosive and versatile backs in the entire league, and his career isn’t suddenly over in New York at age 30. The guy still has wheels and it feels like Madden is rating his speed poorly merely because of how many years he’s existed. Again, correct the speed woes, Madden!
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos (Overall: 87)
Right behind Todd Gurley could be Demaryius Thomas if we’re looking to rank the worst Madden 2017 ratings. DT is getting absolutely hosed here, and truly is being penalized for having a shaky quarterback situation last year and this season.
Thomas had bad quarterback play throughout 2015, yet he still racked up 105 catches for 1,304 yards and six scores. The guy did the best with what he had, and he even remained an elite producer, yet Madden 17 is bringing his rating down because of it.
Players should not be rated based on their surroundings or a one-year drop in touchdown totals. DT is rated below teammate Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate, T.Y. Hilton and Doug Baldwin. Instead of grading DT for the player he is and can be, this is a prime example of Madden 17 being a prisoner of the moment – that moment being last season.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (Speed: 88)
This is our last knock on Madden’s player speed rating. Again, there is some logic here, as Jordy Nelson is 31 years old and coming off of a serious knee injury. Due to that, he certainly could be a step slower and not nearly as good as he was as recently as 2014.
The recovery from ACL surgeries has improved greatly over the past decade, however, making a formerly devastating injury a pretty normal one. It’s entirely believable that Nelson could come back as good as ever in 2016 and make this weak speed rating look like a joke.
We think that’s closer to the reality, especially considering Nelson was pretty darn fast when healthy. I mean, the dude averaged 18 yards per catch in 2011 and hasn’t dipped below 15 yards per catch in any of the last four seasons he’s been active.
He also appears to be getting hosed when you compare him to guys like Keenan Allen, Brandon Marshall and Jarvis Landry. Allen and Landry aren’t faster than Nelson, while Marshall is known around the league as a play-maker, but not one with insane wheels. Marshall is barely rated lower in the speed department, while Landry and Allen are both given faster speed ratings than Nelson. It’s inconsistent, and if you ask us, just not right.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (Overall: 90)
In a league where Rob Gronkowski dominates the tight end position, we really need to give credit out when it is deserved. Few deserve it as much as Eifert, who made his name known as an elite red-zone threat in 2015.
Eifert’s only problem in his career so far is that he’s dealt with injuries and has only been around for three years. Madden should have downgraded his injury and awareness, but his overall deserved a few more ticks.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Overall: 90)
Right after DT and Jordy Nelson comes Dez at the wide receiver position, as he’s clearly another guy that is being downgraded due to his surroundings and/or being banged up in 2015.
Bryant and everyone in Dallas had terrible luck last year, but this is still a guy who was a total machine from 2012-2014 and has every chance to be that same player again in 2016. Still just 27 years old and now healthy, Bryant figures to have a massive 2016 year, yet he is still graded under another guy who had a down 2015 in Alshon Jeffery and an aging commodity in Larry Fitzgerald.
We’re not sure where the consistency is when it comes to Dez Bryant’s rating.
There are certainly some other guys that stood out that didn’t get the throwing power, speed, overall rating (you name it) that we felt they probably deserved, but none stood out quite as much as the guys we just ran through.
For the most part, it seems as though Madden 17 player ratings are pretty accurate, and maybe by the time the game is officially released on August 23rd, they’ll be even better. Still, we can’t help but scoff at some bad gaffes along the way.