Predicting 10 Players Who Will Outperform Their Madden 15 Ranking
To a degree, the folks in charge of player ratings in Madden 15 are talent evaluators. They are charged with taking player stats, physical skills and reputation into consideration as they recreate player likenesses according to the game's ratings system.
It's quite the task, and Bleacher Report had the opportunity to sit down with Madden 15 ratings czar Donny Moore to discuss the process. Here's the video interview:
Even with Moore and his team doing their due diligence, there will always be snubs and players who are underrated. That's the reason there are weekly updates in place.
When players outperform—or underperform—their initial ratings, changes can be made. Based on the initial ratings, which can be seen here, the following slideshow highlights 10 players who will prove Madden 15 ratings makers wrong during the 2014 season.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts, 88 Overall Rating
Some of the players who are underrated are still in position to be really good in Madden 15 with their current marks. The Colts' Andrew Luck is one of those guys.
An 88 overall rating is nothing to sneeze at, but Luck seems poised to become a player worthy of a mid-90s mark. We must remember, he will turn 25 on Sept. 12, so he's just entering the prime of his career.
Last season, Luck was far more efficient than he was in his first season. Though he threw for less yards, he cut his interception total in half (18 to 9) while he still threw 23 touchdown passes, the same amount he tossed in 2012.
Cory J. Bonini of USA Today Sports (h/t The Indy Star) adds perspective.
Luck threw only nine interceptions last year, which came at a clip of one per 63 attempts. He tossed a pick once every 34 throws as a rookie. Comparison: Peyton Manning was picked every 65 throws, and Drew Brees tossed one every 54 passes last year.
Luck is set up to have a breakout season. Aside from his natural growth, he'll also get back future Hall of Famer Reggie Wayne. With the offseason addition of Hakeem Nicks and the return of deep threat T.Y. Hilton, Luck will have a full complement of weapons.
Justin Gilbert, Cleveland Browns, 77 Overall Rating
To put it plainly, Justin Gilbert will prove himself to be the best rookie cornerback in the NFL. The 22-year-old is spectacular athlete and exceptionally confident in his abilities.
His 77 overall rating is not uncommon for a first-round pick, but it won't be an accurate representation of his performance for long.
Gilbert will start from Day 1 with the Cleveland Browns, and he'll have the opportunities to shine early and often.
While Gilbert may not look like an All-Pro in the first three weeks, he seems to be a fast learner. Browns' head coach Mike Pettine said this about Gilbert, per Zack Meisel Cleveland.com:
"He's a rookie; he has a lot of stuff to work on. [But] he's flashed some of the things that we saw coming out of college. He's flashed the ability that was one of the reasons why we took him when we took him."
By Week 4, Gilbert will have proven Madden has him rated a little too low.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears, 86 Overall Rating
Jay Cutler is still one of the most physically-gifted quarterbacks in the NFL. He hasn't become one of the best because he has lacked maturity, good line play in front of him and a stable coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball.
Now Cutler has all of those things, and he still has the arm strength to make any throw on the football field.
When you consider that 2014 will be Cutler's second year in Marc Trestman's QB-friendly system, the 31-year-old should have the best season of his career—if he can stay healthy.
Jamie Collins, New England Patriots, 81 Overall Rating
Expectations are high for Jamie Collins, the New England Patriots' defensive force of nature. Late last season, Collins was one of the most dominant defensive players in the league. His versatility earned him increased playing time and praise from various media outlets.
Erik Fenz of Boston.com thinks Collins could make a significant leap in his second season. After the New England Patriots' 30-7 win over the Carolina Panthers on Friday night, Frenz said this of Collins:
It took a little, but Jamie Collins began to come into his own at the end of the 2013 season and in the playoffs, and he showed up in a big way on Friday night. He came up with an open-field tackle of tight end Greg Olsen on a screen pass, and another on a scrambling Cam Newton while in spy duty. He also stepped up in a leadership role; with Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower both out of action for the night, Collins wore the green dot helmet for the Patriots defense. Collins is a candidate for a second-year jump, and the Patriots linebacker looks ready to make big contributions to the defense in 2014.
At 6'3" and 250 pounds, Collins has the size to play inside or outside linebacker. The Patriots don't mind moving their elite linebackers around to create havoc for opposing offenses. Collins has the look of a future linchpin for the Pats' defense.
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals, 84 Overall Rating
According to Coley Harvey of ESPN.com and ESPN Stats and Info:
"The Bengals averaged 5.8 yards per play with Giovani Bernard on the field last season and 4.9 yards per play with him off the field."
With Bernard firmly entrenched as the No. 1 running back, per ESPN, you can expect the potential game-breaking halfback to have his coming-of-age season this year.
In two years in college, Bernard had 18 runs of 20 yards of more. His production last season is proof that his skills have translated nicely to the NFL.
All he needs is more touches to become a fantasy football stud and a guy in need of a ratings boost on Madden 15.
Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh Steelers, 74 Overall Rating
As pure athletic freaks go, you won't find many guys more impressive than the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ryan Shazier. Men who are 6'1" and 230 pounds aren't supposed to have a 42-inch vertical leap, and certainly shouldn't be blessed with 4.36 40-yard dash times.
However, that's exactly what Shazier brings to the table. Group those skills in with apropos linebacker ferocity, and you have a guy who could challenge for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
In his preseason debut, Shazier had nine tackles, two on special teams and an interception. We know it's only preseason, but if that's not making a splash, what is?
With a startup overall rating of just 74, it won't be hard for Shazier to play well above his numbers.
Montee Ball, Denver Broncos, 78 Overall Rating
Many people view any offense that Peyton Manning runs as a passing attack. That's true to a certain extent, but everywhere the future Hall of Famer has played, he's had a running back put up some decent numbers.
Edgerrin James is probably headed for the Hall of Fame based on his time with Manning in Indianapolis. Joseph Addai had his best season with Manning while in Indy, and last year Knowshon Moreno had his breakout campaign with the Denver Broncos.
This year, Montee Ball is primed to be the Broncos' featured back. Moreno had 241 rushing attempts last season with Ball and others behind him. With less of a supporting cast, Ball should get even more touches than that this season.
His hard, inside running style should make him a productive back. Let's not forget, Ball ran for 5,140 yards in college, so he has the ability to perform at a high level.
Robert Griffin III, Washington, 82 Overall Rating
An 82 overall rating is pretty low for a guy who was the slice of NFL life just two years ago. Robert Griffin III's Madden 15 rating is a direct representation of his mediocre sophomore season.
He threw 12 interceptions and just 16 touchdown passes in 2013. If it weren't for his undeniable physical abilities, one could argue his rating should be in the 70s.
Even though momentum is not in RG3's favor, the former Heisman Trophy winner seems to be inspired by the doubters. Recently, he tweeted this:
They doubted in High School They doubted a turnaround at @Baylor They doubted a Heisman was possible Keep doubting. It's nothing New.— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) August 20, 2014
RG3 is coming off a year where injuries were an issue and having to deal with less than stable situations on the coaching staff didn't help his development. After all, he is only 24 years old. He's too smart, talented and driven to become a bust, unless he's bitten by the injury bug again.
Having a playmaker like DeSean Jackson added to the offense only helps RG3's situation. Look for the third-year pro to bounce back with a big season that quiets the doubters and raises his Madden 15 ratings.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers, 92 Overall Rating
How is a guy rated a 92 overall going to outperform his ratings?
It's simple—the Pittsburgh Steelers' Antonio Brown should have been rated higher to begin with. Brown is not the fastest wide receiver in the NFL, but he was second in the NFL in receptions and receiving yards.
Still, he wasn't rated amongst the top five at his position in Madden 15. What's up with that?
Brown isn't one of the glamour receivers, but if he simply maintains the level of play he demonstrated in 2013, he is worthy of a rating in the 94-96 range. Then again, he should have been there already.
Eli Manning, New York Giants, 81 Overall Rating
An overall rating of an 81 was generous considering the season the New York Giants' Eli Manning had last season. He threw 27 interceptions compared to just 18 touchdown passes.
It's true, the G-Men's wide receiving corps was out of whack, but those numbers aren't entirely deceiving.
That said, it's safe to say the 2013 season was an anomaly for Manning. He hadn't thrown more picks than touchdown passes since his rookie season. Manning is almost a sure bet to have a better season than he had last year.
Rueben Randle is ready to step up as a perfect complement to Victor Cruz, and rookie Odell Beckham Jr. can wreak havoc as a slot receiver. Don't expect two bad years in a row from Manning.
Madden 15 releases Tuesday, Aug. 26, and the gameplay is the best it's been. Yes, you read that correctly. You can read my in-depth review of the game here.
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