Another NFL Draft is behind us, and naturally, the talk among gamers has turned to the Madden ratings of this year’s top rookies. But before we look forward, let’s take a look back to rookies in the time of bench press drills and lead blocking controls – Madden 07.
We all know that Madden doesn’t rate players on the same scale anymore. Five years ago, a rookie at 71 OVR would be a scrub with no future. Now, that same player would be worth keeping and grooming as a future starter. But just how much have rookie ratings changed between Madden 07 and Madden 12? The numbers have gone down, but have rookies taken a harder hit than everyone else? In this article, I compare the player ratings for each first round draft pick in Madden 07 and Madden 12 before any roster updates were applied to get a sense of how the Madden team’s view of rookies has changed over the past five years.
Looking up and down the list of first round draft picks in each game, it’s clear that overall ratings have gone down. But on average, how much have they gone down? And where does each rookie stand compared to other players at their position?
The average rating for rookie first rounders in Madden 07 was 81.44. In Madden 12, that number dropped to 76.44. In Madden 07, the average first rounder was the 40th best player at their position. In Madden 12, the average first rounder was the 42nd best player at their position – an insignificant change that could be due only to the types of players appearing the first round. So, this quick little data exercise suggests that even though rookie ratings at the top end of dropped, the best rookies still fall into approximately the same place in Madden’s ratings hierarchy.
Here’s a histogram of the overall ratings for first round rookies in each game:
Now, let’s take a look at some specific players. The top-rated rookie running back in Madden 07 was Reggie Bush at 87 OVR. In Madden 12, it’s Mark Ingram at 79 OVR. Even at 87 OVR, though, Bush was only the 25th best HB in the game, sandwiched between Thomas Jones and Julio Jones and one point behind the Saints’ starter, Deuce McAllister. Madden 07’s worst rookie halfback, Wali Lundy, came in at 72 overall. In Madden 12, that 72 OVR would have placed him in a tie for the third best rookie HB with second round pick Mikel Leshoure. Some guy named “Maurice Drew-Jones” was rated a little better than Lundy in Madden 07 but one point behind P.J. Daniels, who never touched the ball in the NFL. Isn’t hindsight fun?
Vernon Davis, at 86 OVR and with 92 speed as a rookie, was a stud playmaker from day one. Fourteen tight ends were better, but none were faster. Interestingly, though, five rookie tight ends were rated at least 80 overall.
That classic Madden trick of playing pass-rushing outside linebackers works in Madden 07, too. Manny Lawson is an 84 at defensive end, making him one of the top rookies in the game, and an unbelievable talent if he appeared in Madden 12 with those ratings.
Vince Young was Madden 07’s top rookie QB at 82 OVR. He also featured 89 speed and 91 acceleration, making him one of the most dynamic Madden weapons since Michael Vick 04. Compare young to Cam Newton, who began Madden 12 at 77 OVR, with 83 speed and 94 acceleration. Young and Newton also featured extremely low awareness ratings, at 56 and 49, respectively. Young’s awareness came in a full 20 points lower than Matt Leinart’s. Does that mean Leinart is more aware of his disappointing career than Young is of his?
OS readers, what do you think of the way that Madden rates rookies? Are rookies too good compared to veteran players? Not good enough? Should the rookie rating system change?