The waves of the Madden NFL 15 player ratings continue to roll in.
The folks at EA Sports first announced the overall numbers for the highest-rated rookies in this year's edition of the storied video game franchise on July 21. Since then, they have gradually released additional rankings to reveal some of the game's top players at each position and the overall team ratings.
Below is a breakdown of those players and their ratings as gamers get set for another exhilarating version of Madden.
The official ratings release can be found at EASports.com with notes from Madden ratings expert Donny Moore.
AFC and NFC West Team Ratings and Top Players
|AFC West||Team Rating||Top Players|
|Denver Broncos||90||LB Von Miller (96), QB Peyton Manning (98), K Matt Prater (95), WR Demaryius Thomas (93)|
|San Diego Chargers||83||S Eric Weddle (94), QB Philip Rivers (92), DE Corey Liuget (83), MLB Donald Butler (83)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||82||RB Jamaal Charles (97), DT Dontari Poe (91), LB Justin Houston (93), FB Anthony Sherman (90)|
|Oakland Raiders||72||FB Marcel Reece (92), LT Donald Penn (82), DE Justin Tuck (88), C Stefen Wisniewski (88)|
|NFC West||Team Rating||Top Players|
|Seattle Seahawks||91||CB Richard Sherman (99), S Earl Thomas (95), S Kam Chancellor (93), QB Russell Wilson (93)|
|San Francisco 49ers||90||LT Joe Staley (94), LB Aldon Smith (96), MLB Patrick Willis (96), NaVorro Bowman (96)|
|Arizona Cardinals||80||CB Patrick Peterson (93), DE Calais Campbell (96), WR Larry Fitzgerald (93), LT Jared Veldheer (88)|
|St. Louis Rams||77||DE Robert Quinn (97), LT Jake Long (90), DE Chris Long (87), P Johnny Hekker (87)|
Last, but certainly not least—the divisions that house last year's Super Bowl participants.
Denver pulls ahead of San Diego by seven points in the AFC West, and for good reason. The offense is obviously the best in the game thanks to Peyton Manning, but as Moore points out, it is offseason acquisitions that make the defense one of the game's most formidable:
After being shredded by Russell Wilson and Co. in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos addressed the defensive side of the ball by bringing in veterans DeMarcus Ware (90 OVR) and Aqib Talib (90 OVR) to help shore up the pass rush and secondary respectively. In the trenches, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (88 OVR) was dominant in Denver's run to the AFC Championship.
Comeback Player of the Year Philip Rives and the Chargers are in second with a rightfully earned 87 Overall going to sophomore wideout Keenan Allen after he caught 71 passes for 1,046 yards and eight scores a season ago.
Kansas City rests one point behind with an impressive 97 Overall given to Jamaal Charles. Ten points behind the Chiefs is Oakland, a team whose highest-rated player is fullback Marcel Reece.
On the NFC side, Seattle comes in at 91 Overall with three defenders in the top four. The lone offensive player is Russell Wilson.
Just one point back is San Francisco, a team that also has three defenders in the top four, as if to illustrate the brutality of the division as a whole. Moore does hint, though, that the 49ers' offense will be a fan favorite:
The 49ers came within a few inches of a second consecutive NFC Championship, and should be in the mix again. Quarterback [sic] Colin Kaepernick (89 OVR, 88 SPD) is one of the best weapons in all of Madden. He's supported by a strong running game led by the ageless Frank Gore (90 OVR) and steamrolling offensive linemen Joe Staley (94 OVR) and Mike Iupati (93 OVR). A full year of Vernon Davis (94 OVR), Anquan Boldin (90 OVR), Michael Crabtree (89 OVR) on the field together should help Kaepernick immensely.
A full 10 points behind the 49ers are the Arizona Cardinals, yet another well-balanced squad that quietly won 10 games last season.
The Rams come in last at 77 Overall, with defensive ends Chris Long (8.5 sacks last season) and Robert Quinn (19) breaking into the top four. St. Louis' defensive line is one of its biggest strengths as a team, so it's not surprising to see both Long and Quinn crack the ranks.
AFC and NFC East Team Ratings and Top Players
|AFC East||Team Rating||Top Players|
|New England Patriots||88||FS Devin McCourty (94), CB Darrelle Revis (97), QB Tom Brady (93), LT Nate Solder (91)|
|Miami Dolphins||79||DE Cameron Wake (96), P Brandon Fields (96), CB Brent Grimes (91), LT Branden Albert (88)|
|New York Jets||78||DE Muhammad Wilkerson (93), DT Damon Harrison (88), WR Eric Decker (88), LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson (88)|
|Buffalo Bills||75||DT Marcell Dareus (91), DE Mario Williams (91), LT Cordy Glenn (88), DE Jerry Hughes (83)|
|NFC East||Team Rating||Top Players|
|Philadelphia Eagles||85||RB LeSean McCoy (97), LT Jason Peters (93), RB Darren Sproles (87), QB Nick Foles (88)|
|Dallas Cowboys||81||LT Tyron Smith (92), WR Dez Bryant (94), DT Henry Melton (88), QB Tony Romo (91)|
|New York Giants||76||CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (87), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (87), WR Victor Cruz (87), SS Antrel Rolle (86)|
|Washington||75||LT Trent Williams (95), LB Brian Orakpo (92), RB Alfred Morris (87), LB Ryan Kerrigan (86)|
Next up is the AFC East, which is predictably led by the New England Patriots, although with a slight twist—only two of the top four players reside on the offensive side of the football.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski is an interesting omission, but it makes sense when fans take the time to remember Darrelle Revis now calls Gillette Stadium home and Devin McCourty has morphed into one of the league's best overall defensive backs.
Almost a full 10 points behind is Miami, a team with a stunning lack of offense but plenty of talent on the opposite side thanks to pass-rusher Cameron Wake and cornerback Brent Grimes. After that is the hapless New York Jets, although additions such as Michael Vick and Chris Johnson make Rex Ryan's squad suddenly potent on offense—at least on the virtual field.
Finishing off the division is the Buffalo Bills, and as Moore explains, the chess pieces in place make for another intriguing virtual offense:
Here’s something you don’t hear very often – The Bills are a very exciting team to play with in Madden! Their offense is full of weapons, but their profess will come down to the continued development of second-year quarterback [sic] EJ Manuel. Sammy Watkins is the type of playmaking WR anybody would want on their Madden squad, and Robert Woods is full of potential at the other wideout. The Buffalo backfield could be the deepest in the league in CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown.
Speaking of potent offenses, Chip Kelly's innovative, quick-twitch attack has some ridiculous new additions such as running back Darren Sproles and rookie wideouts Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff, making the loss of DeSean Jackson a forgettable footnote at best.
Four points off the top mark is Dallas, led by Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Free-agent acquisition Henry Melton sneaks into the top four and figures to be a major contributor, provided he bounces back well from an ACL tear.
Speaking of defense, the New York Giants quietly tout a unit that continues to improve, especially when fans remember a certain free-agency signing, as Moore points out:
On defense, the Giants look a lot stronger with a couple of hyphenated names leading the pack. DE Jason Pierre-Paul and newly signed CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who clocks a nasty 98 SPD) lead the New York defense with 87 OVR ratings. SS Anrel Rolle and CB Prince Amukamara are also noteworthy players in the Giants secondary, making the them a sleeper defense for #MaddenSeason.
Washington comes in last and most will immediately realize that Robert Griffin III did not crack the top four, but the sophomore slump has a way of doing that to even the best players. Thanks to the addition of Jackson and RGIII's downright scary speed (91 Speed rating), though, Washington will surely be a fan favorite when players take their talents to the online portion of the game.
AFC and NFC South Team Ratings and Top Players
|AFC South||Team Rating||Top Players|
|Indianapolis Colts||83||CB Vontae Davis (92), OLB Rashean Mathis (93), QB Andrew Luck (88), LT Anthony Castonzo (83)|
|Houston Texans||76||DE J.J. Watt (99), LT Duane Brown (93), WR Andre Johnson (95), LB Brian Cushing (91)|
|Tennessee Titans||74||DT Jurrell Casey (93), CB Jason McCourty (89), LT Michael Roos (89), SS Bernard Pollard (87)|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||73||K Josh Scobee (90), WR Justin Blackmon (83), DE Chris Clemons (84), WR Cecil Shorts III (84)|
|NFC South||Team Rating||Top Players|
|New Orleans Saints||86||S Jairus Byrd (96), QB Drew Brees (96), DE Cameron Jordan (93), TE Jimmy Graham (97)|
|Carolina Panthers||84||MLB Luke Kuechly (94), QB Cam Newton (89), DE Greg Hardy (92), FB Mike Tolbert (92)|
|Atlanta Falcons||79||WR Julio Jones (92), P Matt Bosher (90), QB Matt Ryan (87), K Matt Bryant (85)|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||77||DT Gerald McCoy (95), LB Lavonte David (93), WR Vincent Jackson (92), RB Doug Martin (89)|
Now for a tale of two wildly opposite divisions.
The AFC South is perhaps the division most entrenched in rebuild mode, sans the top team on the list. The Indianapolis Colts lead the way with an even split of offense and defense for the top four, with Andrew Luck and his protector Anthony Castonzo leading the way for the offense.
Houston is one of the more intriguing teams to play as, sans the quarterback position. The defense, led by 99 Overall J.J. Watt, is a point of emphasis, as Moore discusses:
Of course, the excitement in Houston comes on the defensive side of the ball. First overall pick Jadeveon Clowney joins all-world defensive end J.J. Watt to form one of the most feared pass-rushing duos in the league. The Texans are also crossing their fingers for the return of Brian Cushing, who should help shore up last year’s 23rd-ranked rushing defense. In the secondary, Jonathan Joseph anchors an impressive pass defense that finished third in the league last season.
The story is very similar in Tennessee now that Chris Johnson is gone. That is reflected via only one player from the offensive side of the football cracking the top four, left tackle Michael Roos.
Jacksonville sits in the cellar just one point behind Tennessee, with Josh Scobee—a kicker—leading the way in the ratings department. Thanks to Blake Bortles, though, the Jaguars are actually one of the best teams for players to use this year if they want to simulate a rebuild.
Now let's flip the script to what is arguably the best division in football. New Orleans leads the way by just two points, and perhaps to the surprise of some, has two defenders in the top four—recent addition Jairus Byrd and end Cameron Jordan, who tallied 12.5 sacks last season.
The defending division champs follow next, with Moore astutely pointing out why it is impossible for the Carolina Panthers to lead the ratings war in the division:
Despite the 13-3 record and NFC South title, there are still some questions surrounding this Panthers offense. Cam Newton continues to progress, but enters 2014 without his favorite wideout target in Steve Smith. Tight end Greg Olsen is coming off a career year that saw him catch a team-high 73 passes, earning himself a top-five tight end rating in the process.The Panthers will continue to rely on a proficient ground game featuring DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, and, of course, Newton.
Coming off a four-win season, the Atlanta Falcons fail to break the 80-point barrier. There is reason for hope with Julio Jones healthy after missing 11 games last season, but a defense undergoing a schematic overhaul is cause for concern.
Tampa Bay rounds out the list just two points behind Atlanta. Under new head coach Lovie Smith, the Buccaneers will have one of the best defenses to use thanks to players such as Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David—not to mention free-agency additions such as Michael Johnson and Alterraun Verner. But with no true threat under center, the rating makes sense.
AFC and NFC North Team Ratings and Top Players
|AFC North||Team Rating||Top Players|
|Cincinnati Bengals||86||DT Geno Atkins (96), WR A.J. Green (95), DE Carlos Dunlap (90), CB Leon Hall (88)|
|Baltimore Ravens||84||DT Haloti Ngata (92), K Justin Tucker (93), CB Lardarius Webb(90), WR Steve Smith (87)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||78||C Mike Pouncey (88), LB Lawrence Timmons (88), QB Ben Roethlisberger (90), WR Antonio Brown (92)|
|Cleveland Browns||75||LT Joe Thomas (98), CB Joe Haden (95), C Alex Mack (92), WR Josh Gordon (92)|
|NFC North||Team Rating||Top Players|
|Green Bay Packers||88||QB Aaron Rodgers (98), WR Jordy Nelson (93), LB Clay Matthews (90), RB Eddie Lacy (87)|
|Chicago Bears||84||WR Brandon Marshall (96), RB Matt Forte (95), K Robbie Gould (93), WR Alshon Jeffery (91)|
|Detroit Lions||80||DT Ndamukong Suh (97), WR Calvin Johnson (99), DT Nick Fairley (91), QB Matthew Stafford (87)|
|Minnesota Vikings||76||RB Adrian Peterson (98), FB Jerome Felton (88), OT Phil Loadholt (90), C John Sullivan (92)|
Now for the good stuff—the top players on each team and overall team ratings.
First up is the AFC North, a brutal division that sees the Cincinnati Bengals lead the way after three consecutive postseason berths. The usual suspects line the top ratings for the defending division champs.
Things get interesting after the Bengals, though. The Ravens are up next, and veteran wideout Steve Smith sneaks into the top four in what is his first season with the squad after 13 years in Carolina. Moore provides some insight as to why Baltimore is just two points behind the Bengals:
The addition of Steve Smith gives Joe Flacco an added weapon at WR, but is that enough for the Ravens’ offense to flourish in Madden 15?
Their defense shouldn’t need to answer any such questions. John Harbaugh’s young 3-4 D looks like a problem for opposing offenses this year with Terrell Suggs, CJ Mosley, Daryl Smith and Elvis Dumervil at LB. That young secondary should also be much better with another year of experience under their belt. And don’t forget about Jacoby Jones at KR/PR!
Pittsburgh beats out Cleveland by three points for the third spot and Antonio Brown gets hit with a 92 Overall after ranking No. 2 in the league in receiving yards last season (behind Josh Gordon, of course).
Interestingly enough, the NFC North might just be more competitive than its conference counterpart, as the ratings illustrate.
Green Bay comes out on top with a nice surprise to boot. Sophomore running back Eddie Lacy breaks into the top four at 87 Overall a year removed from rushing for 1,178 yards and 11 scores on a 4.1 average—while Aaron Rodgers missed seven games.
Chicago follows close behind and features three offensive skill players in the top four (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte). Detroit is four points behind with an even split between offense and defense in the top four, while Minnesota is another four points back with plenty of explosiveness to still make the team a viable option on the virtual field:
If you enjoy having options at QB, then the Vikings are the team for you. Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder and Teddy Bridgewater are all solid options under center. Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson and potential breakout Cordarrelle Patterson make up a talented receiving corps while Kyle Rudolph holds it down at TE. Did we forget someone on offense? Some guy named AP can carry the load All Day if the passing game isn’t working for you.
The ratings and overall talent of both divisions is enough to make any Madden fan giddy at the options they provide. Top to bottom, the two might be alone as the best in football, but we'll have to wait for the rest of the ratings to roll out.
Top Kickers and Punters
|Brandon Fields||P||Miami Dolphins||96|
|Matt Prater||K||Denver Broncos||95|
|Andy Lee||P||San Francisco 49ers||95|
|Robbie Gould||K||Chicago Bears||93|
|Justin Tucker||K||Baltimore Ravens||93|
Last but certainly not least—especially with this preseason showing off the new, more challenging extra-point attempts—come the kickers and punters.
First comes Brandon Fields out of Miami, a seven-year veteran who more than earned the top spot, as Moore explains:
"Fields finished second in both punting average (48.8) and net punting (42.4). He’s rewarded with Madden 15’s most powerful (98 KPW) and accurate (97 KAC) ratings among punters."
After Moore, though, things get back into the realm of more household-worthy names.
There is Denver's Matt Prater, who kicked the longest field goal in history last season from 64 yards away. Andy Lee follows closely behind as one of the best punters in the game today; San Francisco certainly thinks so after hitting him with a six-year extension a few years back.
Robbie Gould, who continues to stand strong in the harsh conditions of the Windy City, comes up next after a season in which he converted three of four field goals from 50 or more yards. At just 24 years of age, Baltimore's Justin Tucker finishes off the list thanks to a wicked-strong leg that saw him connect on six of seven from 50 yards or more.
Top Strong Safeties
|Kam Chancellor||Seattle Seahawks||93|
|Troy Polamalu||Pittsburgh Steelers||93|
|T.J. Ward||Denver Broncos||91|
|Eric Berry||Kansas City Chiefs||90|
|Reshad Jones||Miami Dolphins||89|
Strong safeties went out to the public next, but after Seattle's Legion of Boom led the way to a Super Bowl, it comes as no shock to find Kam Chancellor atop the mountain.
Chancellor racked up 99 tackles in his fourth year as a pro, bringing things full circle for what is a budding superstar career. Moore provided further ratings that reflect Chancellor's enforcer style of play:
"Bam Bam Kam is a big hitting machine with 97 Hit Power and 85 Tackling. Rounding out the LOB with 84 Zone Coverage, Kam uses his 84 Speed and 88 Pursuit to get involved with stopping the run game."
Old reliable and former cover boy Troy Polamalu follows closely behind with a highlight being his 91 Play Recognition rating that comes from 11 years of work. Former Cleveland hammer T.J. Ward, who took his talents west this offseason to play with Peyton Manning, winds up in third thanks to a superb campaign last year:
New to the Broncos, TJ Ward adds some hard-nosed football to the Denver secondary. With impressive 92 Hit Power, 88 Tackle and 86 Speed, Ward hits the hole and shuts down the opponent's run game. Despite his run stopping mentality, his Coverage and Pursuit ratings aren’t too shabby at 84 and 86 respectively.
The fourth name on the list might give fans pause, as normally, Eric Berry's name on any list is much higher. He ranked as the No. 2 safety overall last year at Pro Football Focus (subscription required), but players will look past the Overall rating and see a Speed rating of 92 and an Agility of 90, making him one of the best defenders to use.
Finally, Reshad Jones finishes things off and gets his due after he recorded 107 tackles last year as a key cog in the Miami defense.
Top Free Safeties
|Jairus Byrd||New Orleans Saints||96|
|Earl Thomas||Seattle Seahawks||95|
|Devin McCourty||New England Patriots||94|
|Eric Weddle||San Diego Chargers||94|
|Charles Woodson||Oakland Raiders||86|
Similar to linebacker and the differences between ends in various defensive fronts, the jobs of safeties in today's NFL vary, although more and more defensive backs are expected to play either side of the formation and some cornerback to boot.
For this year's edition of Madden, Moore and Co. have kept things simple with the classic free and strong spots. An unexpected name in Jairus Byrd, who joined the New Orleans Saints this offseason, leads the way.
The thought of Byrd in a Rob Ryan defense is tantalizing enough, but a 99 Zone Coverage rating and 90 Play Recognition make him the definitive player at the spot this year.
Close behind is Earl Thomas, who finally broke the triple-digit threshold last season with 105 tackles. He matched a career high with five interceptions, which creates a strong overall package, as Moore helps explain:
"ET3 has almost zero weaknesses in his game: 93 SPD/93 AGI/94 Zone Coverage make him good. His 82 Man Coverage (tied for second at FS), 87 Pursuit (ranked third) and 79 TAK (tied for seventh) make him great."
The next name on the list is a bit of a surprise for those who do not follow advanced metrics. New England's Devin McCourty is a former corner-turned-safety who ranked No. 1 overall in the league last year on a list that graded 86 players, per PFF.
San Diego's Eric Weddle predictably rounds out the players who were able to break into the 90s, with 37-year-old Charles Woodson coming up next after experiencing a career renaissance last year in Oakland, on his way to 97 tackles and an interception.
|Richard Sherman||Seattle Seahawks||99|
|Darrelle Revis||New England Patriots||97|
|Joe Haden||Cleveland Browns||95|
|Patrick Peterson||Arizona Cardinals||93|
|Vontae Davis||Indianapolis Colts||92|
As expected, cover boy Richard Sherman leads the way at cornerback with a 99 overall rating after being one of the main cogs in the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl effort. His jaw-dropping ratings, as explained by Moore, justify the lofty overall number:
The Madden NFL 15 cover athlete is the top-ranked CB in each of the following categories: Strength (72), Catching (82), and Man Coverage (98). He's also ranked second in Zone Coverage (96), AWR (94), AGI (96), Play Rec (95), and Jumping (98). Now do you see why he is rated 99 overall?
Darrelle Revis—in a New England Patriots jersey, no less—comes in a close second, confirming some smooth foreshadowing by EA Sports earlier in the month:
It is a shock to see Revis knocked off his perch, but the next name on the list is in no way a surprise. Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns routinely locks down opposing teams' No. 1 receivers, and his wealth of high marks reflects that:
Haden is not blazing fast (91 SPD) but the rest of his attributes are as elite as they come at cornerback: 98 Man Coverage (tied for first), 97 AGI (tied for first), 97 ACC (tied for second), 94 Zone Coverage (tied for third), & 86 PUR (fourth).
Arizona's Patrick Peterson just landed a new deal, as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, but he will have to settle for fourth place in this matter. The Indianapolis Colts' Vontae Davis rounds out the list as a pleasant surprise a year removed from playing a full 16-game season for the first time since 2010 and subsequently performing as one of the league's best.
Top Outside Linebackers
|Von Miller||Denver Broncos||96|
|Aldon Smith||San Francisco 49ers||96|
|Justin Houston||Kansas City Chiefs||93|
|Lavonte David||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||93|
|Robert Mathis||Indianapolis Colts||93|
The usual suspects line the top of the ratings at outside linebacker once again this year.
In a bit of an upset, Denver's Von Miller leads the way despite only appearing in nine games last season. Provided he had a total of 30 sacks over the course of his first two years in the league, it is still hard to argue against his top-dog status.
San Francisco's Aldon Smith follows close behind with an impressive 99 in the Power Moves category. Justin Houston checks in at third on the list with some eye-popping numbers and a great explanation from Moore:
Justin Houston might not be a household name outside of the Kansas City area, but he should be with 93 TAK, 97 Power Moves (ranked first for LOLB), and 93 BLK SHD (ranked first for LOLB).
The first 4-3 outside linebacker is up next in the form of Tampa Bay Buccaneers standout Lavonte David, who has some intriguing numbers when one takes into account the comparison Moore provides:
Lavonte David may just be the best true 4-3 weakside linebacker in the NFL. His 88 SPD/88 AGI/90 ACC put him on par with some of the best RB’s in football, while his 98 TAK/98 PUR/96 PLAY REC are all position-bests at ROLB in Madden 15.
The 33-year-old veteran Robert Mathis rightfully rounds out the list as he comes off a year in which he tallied a career-high 19.5 sacks in his 11th season with the Indianapolis Colts. As an added caveat, he made the transition from 4-3 end to 3-4 outside 'backer a few seasons ago and has never looked back.
That's an enduring testament to his dominance since entering the league—and the virtual field—way back in 2003.
Top Middle Linebackers
|Patrick Willis||San Francisco 49ers||96|
|NaVorro Bowman||San Francisco 49ers||96|
|Luke Kuechly||Carolina Panthers||94|
|Derrick Johnson||Kansas City Chiefs||91|
|Jerod Mayo||New England Patriots||91|
What, expecting somebody else?
The pair of enforcers in the heart of San Francisco's defense rightfully top the ratings in the middle linebacker category. As Moore notes, NaVorro Bowman is not the downright athlete Patrick Willis is, but he makes up for it in other areas:
We have both 49ers starting MLB’s tied for the best in Madden NFL 15. Bowman's not quite as physically talented as Willis, but he might be the better technician with 98 PUR, 95 BLK SHD (best among all MLB’s), 83 Power Moves, and 99 TAK (tied with Kuechly for best in NFL at MLB).
The intricate differences between the two will be noticeable on the field, and as always seems to be the case, Madden players who love controlling linebackers when on defense will yet again flock to the 49ers.
Well, unless they prefer another NFC enforcer who just so happens to be coming off a Defensive Player of the Year campaign.
Luke Kuechly is downright unfair from a ratings standpoint, with a coveted 99 coming in Tackling, Pursuit and Play Recognition categories. The ratings are in no way a shock given his on-field offerings, and he also is one of the main focal points of this year's promotion for the series:
Kansas City's Derrick Johnson and New England's Jerod Mayo follow close behind. The former is an explosive athlete who posted more than 100 combined tackles for the fourth consecutive season last year, while the latter appeared in just six games but remains one of the best run-stuffing presences in the league.
There are other worthy names worth consideration, to be sure, but one has to think they are not too far down a list that is quite crowded at the top.
Top Defensive Tackles
|Ndamukong Suh||Detroit Lions||97|
|Geno Atkins||Cincinnati Bengals||96|
|Gerald McCoy||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||95|
|Kyle Williams||Buffalo Bills||95|
|Jurrell Casey||Tennessee Titans||93|
In one of the tightest rankings list throughout the Madden ratings release thus far, the defensive tackles were announced on Sunday afternoon via EASports.com.
While Ndamukong Suh sit atop the rankings, the top five players were separated by just four points. Trailing just behind Suh was Geno Atkins with a 96 rating, as Steve Noah of Operation Sports notes:
Suh is coming off another dominant season with the Detroit Lions despite missing out on the playoffs. The 27-year-old notched 49 tackles with one forced fumble, 5.5 sacks and six pass deflections.
Among his notable rankings, Moore points out that Suh ranks first in Hit Power (95) and Agility (82) along with being the second strongest (98) and Power Moves (97). Needless to say, he'll be as relentless in Madden 15 as he is on the field for the Lions.
As for Atkins, Moore provides a breakdown of his numbers:
While, Geno Atkins had a major injury that ended his 2013 season, it doesn't affect his Madden NFL 15 ratings in a big way. Geno still has top-end burst (92 ACC, ranked second for DT’s) and a position-leading 98 Power Moves rating.
Gerald McCoy and Kyle Williams followed behind Atkins by just one point overall for a third-place tie.
Entering his ninth season with the Buffalo Bills, Williams posted the best numbers of his career in 2013. With 68 combined tackles and 10.5 sacks—both career highs—Williams was one of the most disruptive members of a stout Bills defense.
McCoy is one of the emerging faces on an impressive Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive corps. The 26-year-old posted career highs of his own with the Bucs, registering 50 tackles, 9.5 sacks and four passes defended.
The young leader spoke about how good the Bucs defense can be this season, per Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times:
We're overloaded with talent. We have loads of potential. But potential will get you cut. You have to work and work and work.
This defense could be No. 1 in the NFL. We have that kind of talent. My eyes lit up today when I turned around and saw Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson standing there. I said 'Man, it just got real.' Those two change our defense. When we get it down, it's going to be scary for the rest of the NFL.
McCoy has turned that potential into stardom, something the final man on the list has also done in a short amount of time.
Jurrell Casey earned the final spot on the top-five rankings after just his third season in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans tackle blossomed in 2013 with 10.5 sacks—more than his first two seasons combined—and became one of the faces of the defense.
With Casey wrapping up the list, the defensive tackle group is a strong one in the trenches. More defensive players are coming in the near future, but this nasty corps is an impressive one for the upcoming Madden release.
Top Defensive Ends
|J.J. Watt||3-4||Houston Texans||99|
|Robert Quinn||4-3||St. Louis Rams||97|
|Cameron Wake||4-3||Miami Dolphins||96|
|Calais Campbell||3-4||Arizona Cardinals||96|
|Cameron Jordan||3-4||New Orleans Saints||93|
|Muhammad Wilkerson||3-4||New York Jets||93|
Let the great debate begin.
Quarterbacks were one thing, but Madden's Saturday reveal listed all defensive ends, regardless of scheme. In other words, comparing a 3-4 end to a 4-3, duties that require very different sets of skills, will reign supreme over what will prove to be an interesting debate.
Of course, leading the way is J.J. Watt, two seasons removed from 21.5 sacks. Last year he posted just 10.5, but was still easily the most dominant lineman in the league.
Going into his fourth season, Robert Quinn follows close behind after 19 sacks a year ago in the 4-3 alignment. At his current clip, a 99 rating appears all but a guarantee in the coming years. 32-year-old Cameron Wake comes in third overall, a befitting spot for his consistent production in all facets of his job description in each of the past five seasons.
Moore took a moment to break down just how dominant Quinn truly is:
With 84 SPD/95 ACC (ranked first among RE’s) and 97 Power Moves (first), the Rams' Robert Quinn might just be the best player most fans have never heard of (outside of St. Louis, Missouri).
The final three offer an ode to the 3-4 ends. Arizona's Calais Campbell rightfully comes in at fourth overall a year removed from ranking as the No. 2 overall end in his alignment at PFF, second only to Watt. Two of the NFL's most criminally underrated players overall—Muhammad Wilkerson and Cameron Jordan—end the list tied, and considering both are 25 or younger, figure to make a strong sure to the top of the ratings as well sooner rather than later.
The list leaves plenty to bicker about, with notable names such as Kyle Williams, Sheldon Richardson, Greg Hardy, Michael Johnson and more off, but one can presume they aren't far behind. All things equal, those in charge knocked this one well out of the park—and perhaps into the river.
Top Offensive Linemen
|Joe Thomas||OT||Cleveland Browns||98|
|Evan Mathis||OG||Philadelphia Eagles||97|
|Josh Sitton||OG||Green Bay Packers||97|
|Joe Staley||OT||San Francisco 49ers||94|
While it won't receive as much fanfare as the skill players, the top offensive linemen are just as important on both the real and virtual field.
In this year's iteration of Madden, Cleveland's Joe Thomas rightfully reigns supreme. The Wisconsin product was the No. 2 overall tackle last season over at Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and his 99 Pass Block rating means the life of Johnny Manziel-users will be that much easier.
Following Thomas is elite guard Evan Mathis, who took to Twitter to celebrate his favorable rating:
Just like the top slots over at PFF at the guard position, Green Bay's Josh Sitton comes in right behind Mathis.
Trent Williams comes in next, and Moore aptly points out that his skill-age combo is frightening, to say the least:
How would you like a 98 Pass Block/90 Run Block ratings combo out of your Left Tackle? Sign me up for some Trent Williams. He’s only 26 years old, and is a great player to build your offense around in Connected Franchise.
Rounding out the top five is San Francisco's Joe Staley, a fitting finale for a list that skillfully ranks the meanest, most dominant trench players on the offensive side of the football today.
Get ready for defense next.
Top Wide Receivers
|Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||99|
|Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears||96|
|Andre Johnson||Houston Texans||95|
|A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||95|
|Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||94|
No surprises here—Calvin Johnson leads the way with a jaw-dropping array of ratings, even after a bit of a "down" year with 84 catches for 1,492 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
EA Sports elaborates on the numbers:
Just how good is Calvin Johnson? Best Hands in NFL: check (98 Catch/99 Spectacular Catch – both ranked first in NFL). Physical monster: check (95 Speed/98 Jump/99 Release). He is even a top-ten Run Blocker among wideouts.
It may come as a surprise to some, but Chicago's Brandon Marshall comes in at No. 2 this year behind Megatron, and rightfully so after hauling in at least 100 receptions, 1,295 yards and 11 scores in each of the past two seasons. He is easily one of the most difficult wideouts to bring down, and as the ratings reflect (98 Catch and CIT), he's the most sure-handed in the NFL.
After those two, things get a bit controversial.
Tied for No. 3 is Andre Johnson, who struggled through poor quarterback play a season ago with the Houston Texans and still brought in 109 passes for 1,407 yards and five scores. He's knotted up with Cincinnati's A.J. Green, who has now recorded at least 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in all three of his seasons in the pros.
Over the last two years, Green has 22 touchdowns and 2,776 receiving yards.
His affinity for highlight-worthy catches after climbing the ladder on defenders has been accurately reflected in the numbers:
Rounding out the top five—and sure to cause a firestorm of talk—is Dez Bryant. The Oklahoma State product has been producing at an elite clip for the past two seasons, but apparently not enough to move him any higher on the list.
It's still difficult to take issue with some of the more in-depth numbers, per EA Sports:
If Dez Bryant plays anything like he does in Madden NFL 15, Cowboys fans will be throwing up a lot of touchdown celebration "X’s." 97 AGI (ranked second for WR’s), 95 Juke Move (eighth), 96 Catch (seventh) and 98 Spectacular Catch (second) make Dez a top-five WR in Madden.
It's an elite top five fans will find issue with thanks to the bevy of deserving names, but all things considered, it is impossible to knock any of the above for making the cut.
Top Tight Ends
|Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||97|
|Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||96|
|Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers||94|
|Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||93|
|Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||88|
Yes, that's New Orleans' Jimmy Graham leading the way at tight end, not wide receiver.
No matter, Graham comes in at 97 overall with, as EA Sports notes, an unfair "85 SPD/87AGI/88 ACC" stat line that makes him perhaps the most unstoppable weapon in the game.
Trailing close behind is one Rob Gronkowski, who comes equipped with a 73 Injury Rating, meaning using him too much will result in him winding up on the virtual sideline, too. His ratings are skewed to make him near impossible to tackle in the open field, an accurate reflection of real life.
San Francisco 49ers faithful will take issue with the fact Vernon Davis winds up in third place this year. Complaints can be quelled when they find out the 6'3" and 250-pound freak athlete comes equipped with a 90 Speed rating.
Two old faithful names round out the bunch in Jason Witten and Greg Olsen, with the former being rewarded for his services over the past decade with a 96 Awareness rating.
Overall, it's hard to find many complaints with the order or omissions, sans the whole wideout-tight end drama. Remember, players can change the official position of any athlete in the game.
Top Running backs
|Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||98|
|LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||97|
|Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||97|
|Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||95|
|Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||95|
Like clockwork, Adrian Peterson is once again on top of the running back ratings.
A bit of a "down" year for Peterson didn't hurt his spot on the virtual throne, as 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns on a 4.5 average in 14 games shouldn't, especially with no threat under center to prevent defenses from stacking the box.
Still, there is room for debate at the position. After all, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy ran for 1,607 yards and nine touchdowns with a 5.1 average as the beneficiary of the offense under new coach Chip Kelly. As EA Sports hinted, even Dallas Cowboys fans will want to use him in this year's game:
"McCoy's 99 Elusiveness (tied with Jamaal Charles, ranked first in NFL), 99 AGI (first), and 98 ACC (first) make Shady a very dangerous man in Madden NFL 15."
The debate gets more intense the further down the list one travels. Jamaal Charles has a strong argument to also be the top back, especially when he is tied with Chris Johnson as the fastest in the game and has a 99 rating in both the Elusiveness and Ball Carrier Vision categories.
Matt Forte also benefited from a new offense around him last year thanks to the arrival of Marc Trestman, although his durability was a key factor—he played the most snaps of any back in 2013.
EA SPORTS Madden NFL provided a closer look at the his numbers:
Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch rounds out the top five, a notion Seattle Seahawks fans will surely not be pleased with after Lynch was the focal point of an offense that won it all last season. Then again, fans outside of the Pacific Northwest will point out Wilson's rating that matches Brady in an effort to balance the scales.
Regardless, the debate rages on as the rating continue to roll out.
|John Kuhn||Green Bay Packers||93|
|Mike Tolbert||Carolina Panthers||92|
|Marcel Reece||Oakland Raiders||92|
|Anthony Sherman||Kansas City Chiefs||90|
|Jerome Felton||Minnesota Vikings||88|
Some say fullback is a dying position, but it is hard to tell from how highly regarded the Madden developers hold some of the game's best.
Of course, it is 31-year-old John Kuhn who leads the way in the rating department. He's one of the most recognizable names at the position and is especially deserving of the ratings crown after his performance last season. When Aaron Rodgers was out of commission, Kuhn led the way for rookie back Eddie Lacy, who amassed 1,178 yards and 11 scores on 4.1 yards per tote.
Carolina Panthers bruiser Mike Tolbert follows closely behind with a 90 Trucking rating to boot thanks to his proven reliability. Behind him is the Oakland Raiders' Marcel Reece, who is quite an intriguing Madden weapon, to say the least—he comes with a 90 speed rating.
Anthony Sherman is the top-rated run-blocker (88) and fans could easily argue he should be higher. Meanwhile, Jerome Felton rounds out the bunch as the lead man in front of Adrian Peterson.
|Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||98|
|Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers||98|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||96|
|Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||93|
|Tom Brady||New England Patriots||93|
Let the controversy begin in earnest.
Manning is the top-rated quarterback as expected after throwing for an NFL single-season record 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards to secure his fifth MVP award.
For EA Sports' Donny Moore—the man in charge of the seemingly impossible task of assigning ratings to players—the numbers given to Manning were a painstaking task of analysis and more, as captured by ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold:
You're constantly looking at it, having your eyes on everything. It's not only what you see, relative to his peers, relative to the league, but what the metrics tell you as well. A guy like Peyton has such a long track record, from our standpoint it's going to take a lot to push that rating down any. A younger player's rating may be far more volatile ... But we update through the season and through the playoffs.
Moore says, though, that Manning's numbers are a clear reflection of his awe-inspiring comeback from injuries that would have forced most to hang up their cleats:
"There were a lot of unknowns there when he came back, but the feeling was it would affect his throw power," said Moore. "We dropped him down to 84, 85 range, got back up to 89 in Madden 13, I believe. And then to where he is now where we just looked at everything, throw power, awareness, all of those things."
Most rational fans will concur that Manning is top dog.
After that? Chaos.
With no 100 overall rating obtainable, it is seemingly impossible to quantify how the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady should stack up against one another.
As the position continues to evolve, others such as Russell Wilson (he wins) and Cam Newton (he produces on the ground in droves as well as through the air) certainly have to enter the conversation for a rating in the 90s.
The silver lining in the controversy these ratings have stirred up (go ahead, search Twitter for Wilson-Brady equal-rating talk) is that the folks in charge can alter the ratings as necessary before the season begins, and each week thereafter.
But for now, have at it.
Madden gamers are well aware a rookie with an initial rating of at least 80 is incredibly high. Well, the fact that five first-year players matched or bettered that number shouldn't be surprising due to a very deep draft class in 2014.
So, which players top the charts this year? Here's your first glimpse:
|Madden NFL 15 Player Ratings|
|Jadeveon Clowney||OLB||Houston Texans||83|
|Greg Robinson||OL||St. Louis Rams||83|
|Khalil Mack||OLB||Oakland Raiders||81|
|Jake Matthews||OL||Atlanta Falcons||81|
|Sammy Watkins||WR||Buffalo Bills||80|
|Calvin Pryor||S||New York Jets||79|
|Aaron Donald||DT||St. Louis Rams||79|
|Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||S||Green Bay Packers||79|
|Taylor Lewan||OL||Tennessee Titans||79|
|Blake Bortles||QB||Jacksonville Jaguars||78|
|Darqueze Dennard||CB||Cincinnati Bengals||78|
|Mike Evans||WR||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||78|
|Zack Martin||OL||Dallas Cowboys||78|
The release also comes with a video preview, complete with advanced ratings:
Seeing Jadeveon Clowney atop the list shouldn't come as a shock. The draft's No. 1 selection has been widely heralded as a freakish athlete and was no stranger to seriously disrupting backfields in college while playing at South Carolina.
It appears the developers at EA Sports assume he'll do the same in the NFL, equipping him with a 95 in Hit Power and a 94 in Power Moves.
According to a tweet from Will Brinson of CBS Sports, Clowney's rating gets even higher as a defensive end:
Greg Robinson shares the top ranking with Clowney. A polished, NFL-ready offensive lineman, he's looking to become a major factor with both the St. Louis Rams and Madden 15 with a 94 Run Block rating—the third-highest ranking among left guard in the league.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins' speed is very apparent in his initial ratings. With a 93 Speed, 95 Acceleration and 95 Agility, he won't be easy to catch. The Bills are certainly hoping as much after they traded up for him in the draft, giving up next year's first-rounder to do so. Watkins is a dynamic talent, and he'll be very fun to control in Madden.
The Rams struck gold this year, grabbing former Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald with the 13th overall selection. Ratings guru Donnie Moore certainly had some high praise for the gritty defender.
Moore said, via EASports.com, "Might be the most physically impressive DL prospect since Jadeveon Clowney, a few paragraphs above. 81 SPD for DT is almost unfair (fastest in all of Madden NFL 15)."
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is the highest-rated rookie at his position, coming in with a 78 overall. Moore coins him as a "mini-Andrew Luck" with a 92 Throwing Power and 73 Speed.
With these ratings now officially released, we finally know why some players reacted the way they did in this video:
Although, we still don't know Bortles' punting rating.
Many of the draft's early selections are still unknown, and the anticipation for the release of the complete rookie ratings will only continue to grow. After all, who doesn't want to know how Johnny Manziel grades?
These initial rankings are sure to excite gamers. Whether you're someone who likes to utilize a speedy playmaker in unique ways or fortify the trenches with young anchors, this year's Madden rankings appear to have something for everyone.
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