Madden 25 releases on Aug. 27, and the closer we get to release, the more gamers will begin to speculate on player ratings.
After all, new gameplay features and such are nice, but it is the player ratings that dictate how the action unfolds on the virtual field.
Rookie ratings are always an interesting topic. How exactly do you rate a guy who has never played a down in the NFL, yet he has wowed scouts and fans with his play in college and likely at the NFL combine?
That is the job of ratings guru Donny Moore at EA Sports. He begins charting players months before the release of the game and he enlists the expertise of several scouts, as well as game footage, to rate all of the NFL rookies and veterans.
There is no exact science to it, so there will always be disagreements, but that's why we have weekly ratings updates. Before the first update drops after the season has begun, here's a handful of rookies and veterans who have earned high ratings in specific categories.
We don't know much about how well a rookie receiver will do when matched against NFL cornerbacks or whether a first-year quarterback will be able to read defenses well enough to make a smooth transition to the NFL.
What we do know is that speed is speed. If a guy runs a blazing 40-yard dash, he's going to be fast. That may not equate to much on the real field, but in Madden we know that he has to at least be accounted for if he's on offense.
Here are a few rookies who already deserve speed ratings in the 90s.
Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
The 5'8" 175-pound rookie out of West Virginia might be the most exciting rookie to control in Madden 25. Austin ran a 4.34 40-yard dash and that only validated the 2,917 all-purpose yards and 17 touchdowns he scored in 2012 for the Mountaineers.
Anything less than a 97 in speed for Austin will cause us to raise an eyebrow.
Marquise Goodwin, Buffalo Bills
As fast as Austin was, he wasn't the fastest at the NFL combine. Goodwin blazed his way to a 4.27 40-yard dash and his elite speed landed him with the Buffalo Bills as a third-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Should Marquise Goodwin be the fastest player in Madden 25?
Goodwin isn't as polished or accomplished as Austin, but his speed is tantalizing. He competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics as a long jumper, which would explain his 42" vertical at his pro day.
To put it simply, Goodwin is a freak athlete. While Moore can't max him out in his first overall rating, it seems that he'd have to be rated a 99 in speed and at least a 95 in jump rating.
Those are two key categories for a receiver in Madden 25. To make sure Goodwin isn't rated higher than Calvin Johnson, expect to see modest hands and route-running ratings to keep the virtual Goodwin realistic.
Some players did one thing so well in 2012, it is impossible for Moore not to recognize and reward these players in Madden 25. Here's a look at two veterans whose specialties should generate high ratings in their area of expertise.
Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears
Tillman led the NFL with a remarkable 10 forced fumbles in 2012. The next-closest player had seven. He is a cornerback, so it is hard to give him a high rating for hit power, but something has to be done to account for his innate ability to punch the ball free from ball-carriers.
Madden 25 has to show 'Peanut" some love.
Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles; Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks; Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers
The aforementioned four receivers each dropped one, or in Avant's case—zero, passes among the 40 or more catchable balls thrown their way last season, per ProFootballFocus.com. That's pretty amazing.
Avant made 53 catches without a drop in 2012. Jackson, Harvin and Manningham had only one drop apiece with 46, 62 and 42 receptions, respectively. All of them had a drop rate of 2.33 or less and that could lead to an increase in their catch ratings.
Jackson and Avant had catch ratings of 85 ad 86, respectively in Madden 13, but Avant's 95 rating for catch in traffic does account for his stellar hands. The slight-framed Jackson's catch in traffic rating was just 74.
Harvin's catch rating was 91 and catch in traffic was an 84. Manningham may deserve the biggest boost. His catch rating was just 85 and his catch in traffic was 74.
Remember, Moore has to balance this out accordingly as to not create Madden 25 stars who aren't NFL stars, but these four receivers' hands have earned them some love in the ratings.
Follow me and Franchiseplay, my sports video game alter ego.