One of the most anticipated e-sports moments each year is the release of the Madden ratings. Around late July, EA Sports releases their annual objective ratings of every NFL player. From Tampa Bay long snapper Zach Triner (23) to Super Bowl MVP Pat Mahomes (99), every player is given an evaluation of their skills summed up up into one overall score.
But how accurate are these ratings? It is fairly unanimous that Aaron Donald is deserving of a 99, but how about EA’s more controversial picks?
TJ Watt – 86 📈
TJ WATT FALLS VICTIM TO THE ‘EDGE’ CONUNDRUM: Football is becoming more and more of a positionless game. While roles like Offensive Line and Quarterback still exist without issue, players like Christian McCaffery (99) and Tyrann Mathieu (93) are blurring the lines of what we once considered distinct positions. As one of the best edge rushers in the league, TJ Watt is contributing to the revolution. He is lethal from either the traditional 4-3 end role or as a 3-4 stand-up rusher. Madden is yet to catch up with the times, however. They still categorize players as either a 4-3 end or a 3-4 OLB, meaning a player with who focuses on the blitzing aspect of these positions as opposed to the coverage responsibilities of a linebacker or the trench-filling of a lineman isn’t fully appreciated. At just an 86, Watt comes in as the seventh-best Outside Linebacker, despite being a DPOY candidate last season. He deserves to be at the very least a low-90.
Darius Leonard – 88 📈
DARIUS LEONARD DEALS WITH THE OPPOSITE ISSUE: Leonard, a two-for-two All-Pro, is jutted to just an 85 due to his average pass rushing. While he is no scrub when it comes to putting pressure on the QB (he had the second-most sacks on the Colts), the highlight of his play comes when playing what would traditionally be called an MLB role. Regardless, Leonard is grouped in with the Kahlil Mack’s (97) of the game as opposed to the Bobby Wagner’s (98). Leonard would have likely finished at least fourth in combined tackles had he played a full 16 games. That alone should earn you a minimum 90.
Rob Gronkowski – 95 📉
ROB GRONKOWSKI HASN’T PLAYED FOOTBALL IN OVER A YEAR: Look, everybody loves Gronk. He’s a big, fun meathead with a passion for the game. As one of the greatest pass catchers of all-time, his spot in Canton is near guaranteed. But Gronkowski hasn’t played football since February of 2019. His last 100 receiving yard game was in December of 2018. You don’t come back from that long of a break and dominate the league. The last player of Gronk’s caliber to return after a year off was Ricky Williams, whose comeback season resulted in just 743 ground yards. His Madden 06 rating? 72. While Gronkowski could easily reignite the league with his physical dominance, it is just far too early to call him the third-best tight end in the league.
JJ Watt – 98 📉
JJ WATT JUST ISN’T WHAT HE ONCE WAS: There was a period of time where JJ Watt was undoubtedly the best defensive player in football. He won three DPOYs in four years and and holds the record for first, second, and third most tackles for loss in a season. But he hasn’t put on a performance like that since 2018. Even then, he wasn’t defensive great JJ Watt; he was injury prone, sack-a-game JJ Watt. In just ten total games last season he averaged just .5 sacks per appearance and and just 24 total QB pressures. While Watt still may possess the raw strength to be an elite end, his age has caught up to him. Due to the physcial demands of the defensive line, Watt has not been treated kindly by the inevitability of passing time. After a couple years fighting off injury to prolong his time in the spotlight, Watt has finally succumb to the dangers of old age. His rapport and continued viability as a strong lineman is enough to grant him a low-90. But to say he is better than Joey Bosa (91), Danielle Hunter (89), or even his younger brother TJ? That is absurd.
Tre’Davious White – 90 📈
TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE IS THE SECOND BEST CORNER IN THE NFL: Last season, Tre White finished with with a joint league-high six interceptions and allowed zero (yes, ZERO) touchdowns in coverage. Yet, he is rated the fifth best corner according to EA, behind the likes of Jaire Alexander (90) and Jalen Ramsey (94). Alexander failed to make the Pro Bowl last season and Ramsey had his worst season of his career. Patriot’s corner Stephon Gilmore is well deserving of his 99, but in terms of talent White is just on his coattails. EA is no stranger to disrespecting unsexy teams like Buffalo (Pro Bowler Tremaine Edmunds is just an 80), but at some point the disrespect becomes criminal. At just 25, White is already in the conversation for best corner in the league. He deserves a minimum 95.
Tom Brady – 90 📉
TOM BRADY IS NO LONGER TOUCHDOWN TOM: Tom Brady is the GOAT. There is no argument, he is the greatest football player of all-time. He salvaged a mediocre Patirots offense for years, turning the team into a six Super Bowl dynasty. Despite this, Brady hasn’t led the league in a major statistic since 2017. Last year, he put on his worst performance since 2013. Quarterbacks with a similar QB rating to Brady this past season include Philip Rivers (82) and Jacoby Brissett (71). While his recent move to Tampa Bay has arguably gifted Brady the best offensive personnel he’s ever worked with, the ageless wonder has finally hit his decline. After a painstakingly average season, to call Brady better than Aaron Rodgers (89), Deshaun Watson (86), and Matt Ryan (87)- all of whom had better 2019 seasons- is to hold onto the memories of what Brady once was.