Madden 2012 Player Rankings: Projecting Cam Newton and Rookie Ratings

Jason KarlAnalyst IIIMay 5, 2011

Madden 2012 Player Rankings: Projecting Cam Newton and Rookie Ratings

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    Though the popular football video game Madden does not usually release until August, it is always fun to speculate the rankings of the incoming rookies.

    Hardcore gamers love playing rookies who have the potential to light up the virtual playing field.

    With exciting players drafted all across the first round, who will have the highest Madden rating?

QB Cam Newton: 78

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    The number one overall pick in the draft, Cam Newton has immense potential but will have to work hard to correct his mechanical flaws.

    Gamers are salivating over the thought of playing with Newton because of his great speed and running skills.

    The Panthers felt the need to find themselves a franchise quarterback, even though I still believe in Jimmy Clausen, and Newton will certainly put people in the seat with his electrifying play.

LB Von Miller: 85

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    At 246 pounds, Von Miller has great speed; in fact, he runs in the mid 4.4's, bringing an explosive speed rush to the Broncos.

    In the college ranks, Miller was nearly unblockable and would fit as third down pass rusher after playing linebacker in the Broncos 4-3 base defense.

    Miller is a tenacious run defender and is more than playing in coverage.

DT Marcell Dareus: 82

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    Dareus possesses great feet and is "fast" for a man his size.

    Dareus disrupts offensive game plans and was continuously double teamed at Alabama.

    He will fit on the Bills defensive line playing next to one of the more underrated players in the league, Kyle Williams.

    Dareus may not be as great as a pass rusher as a run defender, but he can still impact the game.

WR AJ Green: 84

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    Many consider Green the best offensive player in the entire draft.

    Green brings the physicality to the position, and people feel he could be in the same boat as a Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, etc. in a couple of years.

    Green has solid speed, but look for his spectacular catch rating to be one of the highest for a wide receiver in recent memory.

    Green made at least one incredible catch a game for the Georgia Bulldogs.

CB Patrick Peterson: 85

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    At almost 220 pounds, Peterson can run in the 4.3's.

    He has elite ball skills and can snatch any ball thrown in his direction, especially with such great hands.

    Peterson was an elite punt returner in college, and look for him to have the same type of success in college.

    He possesses a unique blend of size, speed and talent and could be the best corner in the league by next year.

WR Julio Jones: 80

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    The Falcons essentially traded two drafts to move up for the playmaker Julio Jones, looking for him to make an immediate impact alongside star Roddy White.

    Jones is a physical specimen at 6'4''. He ran in the 4.3's at the combine and can catch passes in tight windows, even though his hands are questionable.

    Jones improved tremendously his junior season, showing why he was considered an elite wide receiving prospect.

    Look for the Falcons offense with Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones to be of the most fun offenses to play with in the Madden game.

LB Aldon Smith: 78

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    Aldon Smith is a high potential player, who had an injury-plagued season. He is very similar to last year's Jason Pierre-Paul, who found success with the Giants as a situational pass rusher.

    Smith got by on sheer athleticism, so his game will need to be refined as a pass rusher.

    Most thought it was a surprise for Smith to go that early to the 49ers, but few realize that if he was not injured most of last season, he would have likely been a top 10 pick.

    Smith has a blend of size and speed, and playing next to Patrick Willis will help greatly.

QB Jake Locker: 71

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    Locker could be a Madden star because of his great running abilities. Locker ran in the mid 4.5's at the combine and used his elusiveness at Washington to get away from opposing defensive players.

    Locker will have to improve his horrid accuracy, though, as that is the one aspect of his game that is holding him back.

    He has a huge arm, but in the NFL, a big arm can only get you so far.

OT Tyron Smith: 79

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    Smith was regarded as the consensus number one tackle in the draft. He is a natural pass blocker and is one of the most athletic offensive lineman to enter the NFL.

    He could protect Tony Romo's blindside and develop into one of the league's best tackles.

    Even though Smith has only played right tackle with USC, the Cowboys intend to use him as their left tackle.

QB Blaine Gabbert: 76

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    Gabbert is probably in his best situation in Jacksonville. He can sit behind a competent starter in David Garrard.

    Gabbert is accurate and can make all the throws; though he will be coming from a spread offense, most believe Gabbert can transition to a pro-style offense.

    With weapons around him, Gabbert can be a very good starting caliber quarterback.

DE JJ Watt: 78

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    While Watt may never be an elite defensive lineman, he will be very solid and a great complement to star Mario Williams.

    Watt is a great run stuffing 3-4 end and should fit right in with Houston's defense. With long arms, Watt can reach out and tackle well.

    One of the underrated aspects of Watt's game is his great hands, which he utilizes to get past the offensive lineman.

QB Christian Ponder: 68

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    Ponder may be the most NFL ready quarterback drafted in the first round, but there is no denying the fact that the Vikings reached just to get "their" guy at quarterback.

    Ponder has an average arm and will struggle on road games at Chicago and Green Bay with bustling winds.

    He is accurate, and with elite weapons around him—Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Kyle Rudolph, and Toby Gerhart—he could succeed.

DT Nick Fairley: 81

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    The Lions keep on stockpiling defensive tackles with the addition of Fairley. He will join the best defensive tackle in the league in Ndamukong Suh to form a dominant tandem.

    Fairley was a gamechanger. Late in games, Fairley came up with huge tackles for losses or sacks, setting back the momentum.

    He will fit well on the defensive line, especially with Suh taking on double teams.

    Just turn on the Oregon National Championship game tape if you have any questions about his impact on the game.

    Fairley takes lots of plays off, but is still a dominating force.

DE Robert Quinn: 78

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    Quinn could possibly be the best talent in the entire draft, so he could be a great complement at defensive end to Chris Long

    If Quinn played last season, he would have likely been a top three pick, as his pass rushing speed and moves were second to none.

    Quinn has an explosive first step and could transform the Rams defense to new heights.

OG Mike Pouncey: 76

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    Pouncey was widely considered the best interior offensive lineman in the draft, though I think a certain player later on the list was better.

    He was athletic and versatile, as he could play center as well as his natural position of guard.

    The Dolphins desperately needed help at guard, and though Pouncey is not as talented as his brother, he should be able to anchor the line with Jake Long.

LB Ryan Kerrigan: 78

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    People call Kerrigan this year's Brandon Graham, and I can definitely see the comparison.

    Kerrigan played in a 4-3 defense at Purdue, so he will have to adjust to the Redskins 3-4 defense, but he should make an impact opposite of star Brian Orakpo.

    Kerrigan has a relentless motor and never gives up on a play. He could immediately help the 'Skins average pass rush.

OT Nate Solder: 75

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    Solder was regarded by many as the top offensive tackle coming out of the draft and has monster size at 6'8", 315 pounds.

    As a pass blocker, Solder excels and is a natural fit for the Patriots offense. Matt Light is not expected to be re-signed, so Solder could have to play left tackle right away; most pundits though think Solder is not ready to start right away.

    Solder is a converted tight end, so his athleticism at tackle is there. 

DE Corey Liuget: 76

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    Liuget is a quick, penetrating defensive tackle that makes plays, but will have to adjust to the Chargers 3-4 alignment, where he will play defensive end.

    He had a tremendous season with Illinois, recording 63 tackles and five sacks.

    Liuget could be a nice fit across a defensive line desperately needing a five-technique.

    Liuget was one of my favorites coming into the draft, but we will have to see how he adjusts to the 3-4.

CB Prince Amukamara: 81

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    The Giants did not have a pressing need at corner, but took the best player available at 19 with Amukamara, one of the draft's elite talents.

    Amukamara has everything you want in a corner: size, speed, coverage skills and ball skills, not to mention he is a great run supporter.

    The Giants will have a lot of options at corner and could use Amukamara as a Charles Woodson type of player. Woodson played corner, safety and was a heavy blitzer.

DE Adrian Clayborn: 77

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    If you look at Clayborn's junior tape, he shows top five potential.

    He struggled more this season, but his talent and potential is still there. Clayborn could bring size to the defensive end position, as he stands at over 280 pounds.

    He could play defensive tackle on third downs as well.

    Clayborn will fit nicely with Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and DaQuan Bowers on the defensive line.

DT Phil Taylor: 74

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    Phil Taylor started his career at Penn State, but was suspended and kicked off the team. He came back in 2010 and dominated since.

    At 335 pounds, Taylor carries his weight well enough and actually lost weight from the day of the combine to his pro day, showing his dedication to play football at his highest potential.

    Taylor recorded 62 tackles and two sacks last season and manhandled opposing offensive lines.

    He can bull rush, driving the lineman back, and is agile enough to move side to side. He even ran in the 5.18 range at his Pro Day.

OT Anthony Castonzo: 77

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    Castonzo is a tall lineman at 6'7'', but is an athletic pass protector.

    With a large wingspan, it is hard for defenders to get by him.

    He could start at right tackle, even if his run blocking needs improvement.

    NFL Films guru Greg Cosell believes Castonzo is one of six elite players in this draft class; certainly a high praise.

    Castonzo will protect Peyton Manning's blindside.

OG Danny Watkins: 73

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    Watkins was an athletic tackle at Baylor, though he projects at guard, and fits the mold of a Howard Mudd type of offensive lineman. He is a mauler who can get into the second and third lines of defense.

    Many felt that the only reason Watkins would fall was because of his age; he will be 26 entering next season.

    Watkins, though, has received high praise from almost every draft analyst, and some even think he was the best guard in the draft over Mike Pouncey.

    Watkins can move laterally very well and should help protecting Michael Vick.

DE Cameron Jordan: 79

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    Some think the 287 pound Jordan is great fit in the 3-4 DE position, but I think he could be capable of playing 4-3 end or tackle.

    The Saints get a player who will immediately help their average pass rush.

    Jordan can come in right away and make an impact for the defense.

    Jordan was explosive at the Senior Bowl and uses his hands very well to gain leverage on the opposing offensive lineman.

OT James Carpenter: 69

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    Looks like Carpenter is being manhandled by Marcell Dareus.

    The Seahawks wanted to upgrade their offensive line, but they drafted a late second round prospect in the first round with James Carpenter.

    He will have to improve his footwork to even be considered a right tackle.

    Carpenter translated more to a guard, but he was more of a finesse player at Alabama.

    He was overpowered at times by bigger linemen and was beat by quick fast ends.

    Nick Saban had a priceless reaction when hearing Carpenter's name being called in the first round.

WR Jonathan Baldwin: 75

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    Baldwin is a huge target at 6'5'' and will be a great complement to Dwayne Bowe, one of the breakout players from last year.

    With Jamaal Charles in the backfield and Baldwin and Bowe as the main targets, the Chiefs offense could be one of the best in 2011.

    Baldwin may not have great speed, but he is a solid possession receiver who can make acrobatic catches.

CB Jimmy Smith: 79

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    Though he did not intercept a pass all season, Smith was not targeted. He shut down the opponent's best wide receiver. Smith is a great run supporter, he is obviously big in size and is also great in press coverage.

    The Ravens got a steal at 27 in the first round. Smith is a top 10 talent who will fit in the Ravens aggressive style defense.

    With a great front seven, Smith could make a huge impact starting right away for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

RB Mark Ingram: 80

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    Ingram can do it all at running back: block, catch and run effectively. Even though Ingram does not have great speed, he has good enough to be more than just a power back.

    He will come on with a chip on his shoulder and will be motivated by his father, who is in jail.

    Ingram could be the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year in the Saints elite offense led by Drew Brees.

OT Gabe Carimi: 74

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    Carimi was highly touted coming into this college season, but has not played up to par. He struggled early on, but came on late towards the end of the season.

    Gabe Carimi also played left tackle, but can be moved over to the right side or even play inside at guard.

    Carimi fits into the Bears offense and will open up holes for Matt Forte.

DE Muhammad Wilkerson: 76

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    Wilkerson was a standout at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, coming at 6'4'', 315 pounds while still running a 4.99 in the 40-yard dash. He bench-pressed 27 times and has 35 1/4'' arms.

    In his junior season, the 21-year-old Wilkerson recorded 68 tackles (43 solo) and 10 sacks, an astounding number for a defensive tackle, even if it was against inferior competition.

    He will fit as a 3-4 end in the Jets defensive scheme.

DE Cameron Heyward: 73

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    Heyward underachieved this year with the Buckeyes.

    If you put on his tape against Arkansas in their bowl game, though, he looked like a top 15 pick.

    At 295 pounds, he will add depth to the Steelers defensive line.

OT Derek Sherrod: 74

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    Sherrod is a tall lineman who excels in pass protection.

    He is a very raw offensive lineman but has the potential to be a solid left tackle in the league.

    The Packers used their first round pick on an offensive lineman the second straight year after going with Bryan Bulaga last year.