5. JaMarcus Russell
Team: Oakland Raiders
Madden Rookie Debut: Madden 08, 82 rating
Most Recent Madden Sighting: Madden 11, 62 rating
When the Raiders finally opted to secure their quarterback of the future, they chose Russell. JaMarcus had the tools to be a great player. He had the arm, the accuracy was close, and the athletic ability was there. That’s what Madden developers saw when they created him for his rookie season.
At least JaMarcus got paid before a potential rookie slotting system.
Oakland was not that great of a team, but throw to a wideout running a post route, and Russell was sure to hit the speeding wide receiver. However, now you're more likely to see Russell in a Robitussin commercial than you are to see him on a football field.
4. Adrian Peterson
Team: Minnesota Vikings
Madden Rookie Debut: Madden 08, 85 rating
Most Recent Madden Sighting: Madden 11, 98 rating
What is your team’s best scenario in the NFL Draft? You draft a sleeper in the seventh round (Marques Colston) or land Peyton Manning? How about landing Adrian Peterson with the seventh pick? Seems like a solid prize for not getting the top pick.
Brett Favre tries to steal Peterson's spotlight even in images.
Peterson was an absolute beast in Madden 08. His 85 rating was the highest given to a rookie running back, and his skill set was unmatched by any other. His speed and agility matched his trucking, which made for a very dangerous player. Not to mention his rating skyrocketed the next couple years in your franchise into what he really is today.
In Madden 11, he shipped as a 99-rated player, one of just six in the game’s initial released rosters.
3. Alex Smith
Team: San Francisco 49ers
Madden Rookie Debut: Madden 06, 82 rating
Most Recent Madden Sighting: Madden 11, 76 rating
So Aaron Rodgers won a Super Bowl. Who cares that he is rated over 90 in Madden now. Everyone believed that Alex Smith was the next big thing, including everyone over at EA Sports.
For whatever reason, I don't think Aaron Rodgers will mind that he didn't make the list.
Smith came into the NFL virtual world with a nice little 82 rating with some solid mobility for a quarterback. His skills in Madden were reminiscent of what you would see Steve Young do back in the day or on YouTube.
Unfortunately, Smith’s rookie of the year performance in Madden didn’t relate to the real world. He is still stuck in translation in the NFL after signing a one-year deal with the Niners. He has one more shot to become the legend that Madden once thought he would become.
2. Calvin Johnson
Team: Detroit Lions
Madden Rookie Debut: Madden 08, 87 rating
Most Recent Madden Sighting: Madden 11, 93 rating
Did you expect the highest ever rated rookie to top these rankings? Well if you did, obviously you’re wrong. Calvin Johnson became the fourth wideout that Detroit took with a top ten choice. It was a highly criticized move, but it turned out to be a great choice in the end.
Johnson brought an intriguing mix of size and speed to the Madden nation. Plus the ridiculous rating of 87 really brought up his value to any Madden lover. His route running was superb, his catching was better than Randy Moss. He was the ultimate weapon -- if he was on the right team.
He was good then, he's still good now.
Johnson was terrible if used on the Lions. He had no quarterback to get him the ball, so of course he flourished on a team with a decent quarterback and great offensive line. Sure trading away an 87-rated rookie is against the laws of franchise realism, but it happens every year.
Perhaps that kept him from being number one.
1. Vince Young
Team: Tennessee Titans
Madden Rookie Debut: Madden 07, 82 rating
Most Recent Madden Sighting: Madden 11, 82 rating
Go ahead and call me a homer, but everyone knows how damn good Vince Young was in his Madden debut. He was the next best thing with Michael Vick on the Falcons, except he was bigger and wouldn’t fumble all the damn time.
Question marks still remain around Vince's future.
Young came into the NFL with all the popularity in the world, so many franchise goers went and traded for him right off the bat. The Texas quarterback had it all in the Madden world. I will always commend EA for somehow bringing Young’s freakish athleticism into a video game world.
Speed is what set Young apart from everyone else on the list. The guy had an 89 speed rating as a rookie quarterback. Pull that right trigger and you had an easy first down. Third and short? No problem. Young would truck through the defense like it was a piece of cake.
Of course, every rookie has problems, and Young’s were very apparent in Madden. His accuracy was awful when he was running around in the pocket. But his deep pass would sail across the whole field. So in the end, his pass ratings sort of balanced out
Oh, and did I mention his crazy speed?
This list may be a little off, mainly because the Madden 08 crew decided to give everyone a rating over 80 (even Young was an 88 by then). But regardless, these five rookies in Madden were officially evil.
Who do you think will be the best rookie in Madden 12?
Dustin Toms is a staff writer at Operation Sports, specializing in basketball games. Born and raised in Washington state, he has made his life goal to personally see to David Stern's firing after the Seattle SuperSonics were relocated. Follow him on Twitter @DustinToms_OS.