Nothing is more hotly debated than Madden player and team ratings each year.
This debate has once again rekindled with the upcoming release of Madden 17, which has a new batch of players to rate, stirring up plenty of controversy in the process.
Making the ratings isn't an easy task. Back in February 2015, FiveThirtyEight's Neil Paine took a deep dive into what goes into the player ratings, highlighting one nugget as an eye-popping note.
The Madden "Ratings Czar" "is tasked with assigning more than 40 numerical grades to each of the NFL’s roughly 2,600 players, evaluating them in categories ranging from passing accuracy to tackling ability," Paine wrote.
That's quite a few numbers to assign.
With Madden 17 about to launch, let's take a look at some rookie rankings and league hierarchy. Every player rating in the game is available at EA Sports.
|Official Release Date||Systems||Sale Price|
|Tuesday, August 23||PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360||$59.99|
Rookie Player Ratings Review
|Top 10 Madden 17 Rookies|
The rookie rankings look, in a word, great.
Unlike the silly draft process and the way teams keep reaching for signal-callers, EA Sports didn't go out of its way to rate either high-profile gunslinger highly.
In other words, much to the chagrin of their fanbases, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz don't top the list.
In fact, Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo ranking so highly speaks to the strengths and versatility of the system—it won't succumb to the hype machine but sticks by its realistic methods.
It's not a surprise to see Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey atop the list. He has been hyped as one of the best secondary members to join the NFL over the course of the past decade. The ratings take into account Ramsey's ability to play any spot on the back end of a unit while meeting the run with violence or dropping into coverage and forcing turnovers.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is much of the same story. Running for more than 1,800 yards in back-to-back seasons, pass-blocking well and showing soft hands have him high up the list.
In the end, kudos go to EA Sports for the rankings. They're subject to major upheaval sooner rather than later based on how every rookie reacts to the pro game, but anyone who follows the sport knows there are few, if any, misses when it comes to this year's rookie rankings.
Overall Franchise Rankings
Assigning overall team rankings is more complex than dissecting a rookie class.
From this vantage point, the rankings in the NFC look great. The Carolina Panthers sit on the throne after going to the Super Bowl and having MVP Cam Newton under center. In addition, many have forgotten that star wideout Kelvin Benjamin is on his way back from injury.
It's not a shocker to see Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers hanging around the top as well, as last year's hiccup of a 10-6 campaign came while the team battled injury after injury at wideout while not having Jordy Nelson at all—and Green Bay still won a playoff game.
Perhaps the most interesting rating in the NFC befalls the Minnesota Vikings. The team sits a full four points below the Packers at 81 despite winning the NFC North and boasting Adrian Peterson and the league's second-best safety in Harrison Smith:
At first glance, the AFC rankings appear to have even more interesting ranges.
For instance, the Oakland Raiders come in with an 84 after putting up a 7-9 season and not having won more than eight games in a season since 2002. That's surprisingly a few points higher than the Denver Broncos, who admittedly have Mark Sanchez at quarterback but boast a roster that carried a struggling Peyton Manning to the Super Bowl.
As Pasta Padre's Bryan Wiedey pointed out, Oakland ranks up there with several other notables as far as highly rated players go:
These ratings have a lot of projection in them, of course, which makes it almost humorous that no team from the AFC South ranked better than 82, with the Tennessee Titans leading the way. That 82 for Tennessee happens to be the same rating as Denver.
Again, no rating system will be perfect, and these franchise rankings do paint a rather strong picture of the league, especially one that reflects the various changes over the course of an entire offseason.
The best part? Rankings can change as the season progresses, so Madden 17 won't ever fall behind the happenings on the field and in the standings.