Madden 21: Review of Elite Player Ratings, Achievements and More

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2020

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson works out during an NFL football camp practice, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The 2020 NFL season still doesn't kick off for a few more weeks, but fans can satisfy their football itch with Friday's release of Madden NFL 21.

Last year, developers at EA Sports attempted to make each player better reflect his overall rating by setting up five separate categories: elite/near elite players, quality starters, low-level starters, backups and low-level backups.

That was on top of the introduction of Superstar and Superstar X-Factor abilities.

Madden 21 won't feature anything quite so drastic, with developers instead focusing on the addition of new abilities tailored to set the top stars apart.

To build anticipation for the upcoming game, Madden once again rolled out the full player ratings well in advance of the launch date. Five players received a 99 overall rating—the highest available—with 25 coming in at 95 or better.


Madden NFL 21 Player Ratings (95 and Above)

  • Aaron Donald, RE, Los Angeles Rams (99 OVR)
  • Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (99 OVR)
  • Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (99 OVR)
  • Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (99 OVR)
  • Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England Patriots (99 OVR)
  • Bobby Wagner, MLB, Seattle Seahawks (98 OVR)
  • DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals (98 OVR)
  • George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers (98 OVR)
  • J.J. Watt, LE, Houston Texans (98 OVR)
  • Zack Martin, RG, Dallas Cowboys (98 OVR
  • Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (97 OVR)
  • Khalil Mack, LOLB, Chicago Bears (97 OVR)
  • Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks (97 OVR)
  • Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs (97 OVR)
  • Von Miller, LOLB, Denver Broncos (97 OVR)
  • Cameron Jordan, LE, New Orleans Saints (96 OVR)
  • David Bakhtiari, LT, Green Bay Packers (96 OVR)
  • Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles (96 OVR)
  • Mitchell Schwartz, RT, Kansas City Chiefs (96 OVR)
  • Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (96 OVR
  • Calais Campbell, RE, Baltimore Ravens (95 OVR)
  • Chandler Jones, LOLB, Arizona Cardinals (95 OVR)
  • Harrison Smith, SS, Minnesota Vikings (95 OVR)
  • Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (95 OVR)
  • Terron Armstead, LT, New Orleans Saints (95 OVR)

Somewhat surprisingly, Joe Burrow is the highest-rated rookie but has company for the honor. The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback comes it at 76 along with Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.

Many considered the 2020 draft to be flush with skilled pass-catchers, and that's reflected by the fact 15 receivers make up the 20 rookies rated 70 or better.

Unlike last year, Madden 21 hasn't confirmed the full list of achievements in its Gridiron Notes. The achievements for Madden NFL 20 should at least provide a helpful guide.

The biggest new feature for Madden 21 is The Yard. As implied by the name, the mode will resemble more of a backyard football game, with players capable of executing unique animations for a little extra flair.

Anybody who downloaded Madden NFL 21 Mobile already has access to The Yard: Underground, a more limited version. Users will be able to transfer any progress they made on The Yard: Underground to the standard game.

Earlier in the summer, a number of fans expressed their frustration with what they believed to be a lack of attention paid to Franchise mode, which prompted a response from Madden developers. Developers subsequently revealed the framework for updates that will come post-launch for Madden 21, as well as work that is already being lined up for Madden 22.

Among the improvements is more realistic player progression and regression, as well as better trade logic. Both aspects are critical considering the goal of Franchise mode is to assemble the NFL's next dynasty.

If you haven't already, it's probably a good idea to let friends and family know you have plans this weekend as you explore Madden 21 for yourself.