Coming up on its 30th anniversary, Madden NFL has a pretty complicated history and relationship with its fans. While most are fine with the series, it is the only NFL licensed football sim on the market, meaning that there’s no competition. No competition means that the devs don’t necessarily have to try as hard on a yearly basis to put out the best possible product that they can. One thing that’s always been hotly contested and awaited are the player ratings. It’s a subject that invites much debate, with fans often going to bat for their favourite players. While the series typically gets these right, there are some notable misses.
There are plenty of things that go into a player’s ratings in a Madden title. Their performance from the last year, game tape, breakdowns, injury history, age ect… But despite all this work there are still some questionable ratings to be found in the games. Some older players get judged too harshly, while some players are judged based on their past achievements and reputations rather than ability.
With that said, let’s take a look at the top 25 most ridiculous Madden NFL player ratings of the last five years.
25 Jermichael Finley – Madden NFL 25, 88 OVR
To be considered one of the best of your position is a pretty high honor for any NFL player. While he was a serviceable tight end who often showed flashes of playmaking ability and promise throughout his career, Jermichael Finley certainly wasn’t what you would call a top-five player at his position. Yet in 2014, it seems as though the people at EA thought it appropriate to make him one of the highest rated tight ends in the game.
Finley was more of a system player rather than a true playmaker.
He’d dropped off a bit between 2011 and 2012, yet was still rated as highly as he was. Finley had the advantage of playing with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, which bolstered up his numbers considerably. Sadly, a spinal cord injury forced him to retire just a couple of years after Madden 25 was released.
24 Alex Smith – Madden NFL 17, 80 OVR
We can all say safely that the ability to make big, flashy plays is what catches a lot of people’s attention when it comes to football. As a quarterback, being able to orchestrate those kinds of plays pays off rather well. Alex Smith has never been one for the highlight reel, but he’s a solid field general who helps his team by moving the ball consistently and rarely putting it in harm’s way. He’s a veteran and one of the most trustworthy passers in the game. But it seems that all it took was an off-year for his Madden ratings to take a huge hit. At 80 overall, he fell behind many unproven younger passers, while being placed around the middle of the pack for starters.
23 Mike Evans – Madden NFL 17, 86 OVR
One of the most athletically gifted receivers in the game, Mike Evans is a premier talent in the league. Evans has a number of Buccaneers franchise records, including most receiving touchdowns in a season, most receiving touchdowns by a rookie in a season and most consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons with 4.
But despite all this, he still gets no love.
Evans was passed up for older and less consistent receivers in the ratings. While 86 isn’t exactly a bad rating, Evans’ play merited at least something in the low 90s. He was a solid option in the game regardless, but should’ve been elite.
22 Trent Williams – Madden NFL 15, 89 OVR
The left tackle position is one of the most vital in all of football. While it is certainly appreciated, it can often go overlooked. Something that isn’t exclusive to fans it seems. They don’t put up a multitude of eye-popping stats, but there’s a fine line between good and elite when it comes to tackles. Washington’s Trent Williams is on the elite side of the coin. But you wouldn’t guess that given this rating. Williams has consistently proven to be one of the best tackles in all of football, but he is aging and on the decline. Still, this rating is ridiculous. He played 15 games in 2014 and played exceptionally. This rating should have been in the mid-90s range.
21 Tyrod Taylor – Madden NFL 16, 72 OVR
A solid, but not a great quarterback, Tyrod Taylor is certainly a player that many teams would like to have on their team. A good guy in the locker-room, and an exceptional talent on the field, Taylor was first given his first crack at a starting job in 2015 with the Bills. Though he’s now a Cleveland Brown, Taylor had some good years with the Bills and much like Alex Smith, is one of the best field generals out there.
Why is his rating here so darn low?
2015 was Taylor’s first year starting yes, but that doesn’t excuse this pathetic rating. We’ve seen rookies coming out of college end up busts with ratings higher than this, so how does this make sense. He wasn’t a rookie that year and had done enough to earn a starting job, so why the low score?
20 Nick Fairley – Madden NFL 15, 92 OVR
This is a ridiculous rating. True, at one point in time Nick Fairly did make a fairly formidable duo with Ndamukong Suh for a while, but don’t be fooled, Suh did all the heavy lifting. This rating makes it so that fairly is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game; witch just isn’t the case. That’s not to say that he’s a bad player, but more than anything he is a serviceable one.
Funny enough, his production dropped off considerably after this.
While he did have a good 2017, Fairly is a good but not elite talent. So this decision to have his rating reflect the latter is something of a puzzle.
19 Philip Rivers – Madden NFL 25, 84 OVR
Hailing from the legendary quarterback class of 2004, Philip Rivers is the only one of that draft’s first round passers to have not yet won a Super Bowl. Despite this, Rivers has been one of the better passers in the league throughout his career and is well respected around the league. It seems though, that he’s yet another veteran quarterback EA has overlooked.
There are many, younger passers who surpass Rivers in Madden 25.
Yes, Rivers is up there in age. And yes, he’s had some bad years, but he’s still a guy that most coaches and GM’s would love to have under center. That’s true now and it was especially true four years ago.
18 Charles Woodson – Madden NFL 15, 88 OVR
Charles Woodson, no matter where he played, be it Green Bay or Oakland, was a beloved player and a leader who made big plays routinely. He made huge impacts on both the Raiders and Packers franchises and in all likelihood will be a first ballot hall of fame player. His long and storied career ended off as well as you could hope, but we have to think that the people at EA boosted his ratings a little bit too much.
At 38, Woodson wasn’t the same player he once was.
Woodson made the switch to safety later on in his career, and while he still managed to make an impact on the field and provide solid veteran leadership, you wouldn’t have called him one of the league’s best at the position. This seems more like a legacy rating than anything else.
17 Trent Richardson – Madden NFL 25, 87 OVR
By all means, Trent Richardson’s rookie year in Cleveland – though a productive and fairly successful one – wasn’t as amazing as this rating would make it seem. Richardson didn’t hit 1,000 on the ground and averaged a little over 3.5 yards per carry. Average numbers by any standard, but maybe his being on the Browns amplified that a little. For a team that’s usually so bad, seeing any sort of positivity would probably inspire a little too much confidence in anybody. Regardless, we can all agree that he didn’t deserve to be one of the highest rated backs in the game. Case and point; he’s in the CFL right now desperately trying to make it back onto an NFL roster.
16 Jamaal Charles – Madden NFL 16, 94 OVR
Jamaal Charles might have a hard time finding work in 2018, but there was a point when the speedy runner was thought of as one of the better running backs in football – when he was healthy of course. A healthy Jamaal Charles was a nightmare for defenders, and could make magic happen in open space.
Injuries have plagued Charles throughout his career.
So while this rating is somewhat warranted, you have to wonder why the people down at EA weren’t a little more critical of his injury history. They’ve done it with other players. Well, sadly, the injuries really started to take their toll after Madden 16’s release, becoming more and more frequent.
15 Rob Ninkovich – Madden NFL 15, 89 OVR
One of the few players on this list who isn’t in the league anymore, Rob Ninkovich played a majority of his career with the New England Patriots. One of the most effective players on that team in the last decade, Ninkovich fit in well with New England’s hybrid defensive scheme. A versatile defender, he always did what was asked of him and produced well throughout his career. But this rating would have you believe that he was one of the best at his position and that simply isn’t true. Ninkovich was a scheme guy. He put up solid stats and was incredibly effective against the run, but was never a top-tier defensive end or linebacker.
14 Jason Pierre-Paul – Madden NFL 18, 88 OVR
Much like Ninkovich, Jason Pierre-Paul was great against the run, but was fairly average when it came to rushing the passer. Pierre-Paul was a phenom early on in his career, and was one of the best young pass rushers in the game. If this rating was from five years ago, then it’d be a solid one. But injuries took a toll on his production, including an awful fireworks accident that took a couple of his fingers.
Pierre-Paul was never the same player following his accident.
Though he was still productive, his pass rushing skills declined. He found a niche as a run stopper, and that seemed to work well for him. But his rating really should’ve been just a little lower. Something in the low 80s would’ve suited him much better.
13 Kenny Phillips – Madden NFL 25, 85 OVR
Another former Giant, this one out of the league for a few years now, Kenny Phillips had a very promising start to his career. He helped the Giants win their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history, and had great instincts for finding the ball. But as is often the case, injuries derailed his career. The Giants let him go and he quickly found a home with the division rival Eagles. The rating you see above is reflective of this period in his career. Philips wasn’t really all the same player after his injuries and his rating here should’ve reflected that. What’s more, he was released only a few days before the game released.
12 Demarco Murray – Madden NFL 18, 91 OVR
Demarco Murray is most widely known for his historic 2014 campaign that saw him near 2,000 yards rushing for the Cowboys. There was a time when it seemed like Murray was destined to be one of the league’s best runners, but sadly that time has passed him by.
After leaving Dallas, Murray never really duplicated his success.
He signed on with the Eagles and then moved on to the Titans. He was serviceable, but not elite. So this rating is pretty ridiculous. He was a change of pace guy with the Titans. He lost his job this past season yet he’s rated as one of the top runners in the game. Ridiculous.
11 Jimmy Graham – Madden NFL 17, 91 OVR
It wasn’t all that long ago that Jimmy Graham was considered one of the best tight ends, and one of the most freakish athletes in all of football. Anyone who’s played a good deal of Madden knows that lining him up in the slot or on the outside would have caused all sorts of mismatches. But he was never the same player after being traded to Seattle. Still a solid tight end, Graham wasn’t making as many big plays as he used to and was more of a scheme player with the Hawks. He might pick things up again in Green Bay, but this rating put him as one of the league’s top tight ends – and that’s just not true.
10 Terrell Suggs – Madden NFL 18, 86 OVR
Age is nothing but a number. At least, that’s what seems to be the case for Terrell Suggs. The Ravens linebacker is a master at rushing the passer, and has been doing it consistently for over a decade now. Entering his 15th season, Suggs has had some ups and downs, but ultimately has been dominant for the Ravens.
A few injury-plagued seasons and poor statistical showings might’ve negatively affected his ratings.
2015 and 2016 were not great seasons for Suggs. But that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t have been one of the highest rated 3-4 linebackers in the game – if not top 3. He had a great 2017 campaign and hopefully, EA takes notice.
9 Peyton Manning – Madden NFL 16, 92 OVR
In what turned out to be his last NFL season, Peyton Manning had an overall rating of 92. He also had one of his worst statistical campaigns ever. Manning was long past the twilight of his career, and following two strong statistical campaigns, perhaps it seemed as though he’d have a Tom Brady thing going on. Well, regardless, he was one of the highest rated passers in the game, though that never showed throughout the season. Manning’s numbers were a mess, his play was sloppy, and he lost his starting job for a while before reclaiming it and playing well enough to let the Broncos’ defense lead the team to a Super Bowl victory.
8 Jason Peters – Madden NFL 18, 87 OVR
Another aging tackle that EA undervalued, and another NFL East standout; Jason Peters’ 2017 season wasn’t all that he hoped it’d be. An injury landed him on IR, and took him out during Philadelphia’s Super Bowl run. As is the case with real-world football, building a solid offensive line is paramount to success in Madden. So Peters – despite being up there in years – is an incredibly valuable asset.
He might be old, but most teams would love to have him on their roster.
Peters got shafted with this rating. NO way is he anything under anything in the low 90s. It’s yet another example on this list of EA giving older, proven veterans the short end of the stick for whatever reason.
7 Plaxico Burress – Madden NFL 25, 80 OVR
Currently an interim coach with the cardinals, Plaxico Burress was once one of the biggest names in New York football – both for good and bad reasons. Burress injured himself in 2008 via a self-inflicted gunshot wound, effectively ruining the Giants’ hopes of making another Super Bowl run. After a short prison term, he returned to the NFL with the Jets and Steelers. But he was never the same. Burress only recorded 3 receptions in 2012, yet the developers thought it reasonable to give him the fairly high rating of 80 overall. It makes absolutely no sense for a guy that old, who’s so clearly not involved with the offense to have such a decent rating.
6 Justin Blackmon – Madden NFL 15, 83 OVR
Justin Blackon’s story is one of wasted talent and a ton of potential. The Jaguars took Blackmon with the 5th overall pick in 2012 hoping that he would be a playmaker for years to come. Well, he certainly made highlight reel plays, but it only lasted for about a season and a half. Blackmon was suspended during the 2013 season, and it’s something that’s haunted him.
Blackmon hasn’t played a down since 2013.
That’s why this rating is so strange. Blackmon hadn’t been in the league for close to two years at this point, so why such a gratuitous rating? It would’ve made much more sense for the developers to keep him out of the game until he was reinstated and then assign him a rating should they cross that bridge.
5 Larry Fitzgerald – Madden NFL 17, 92 OVR
Larry Fitzgerald is a great guy, a future hall of famer, and at this point in his career, a solid receiver. But he’s not a top-tier pass catcher in the NFL, at least not anymore. On the wrong side of 30 by NFL standards, Fitzgerald is rated like one of the top receivers in the league here – and while he still is very good, there are plenty of younger receivers out there who are better. In Madden 17, Fitz was rated similarly to Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins. Both are young, dynamic playmakers and are much better suited for those kinds of ratings. All things considered, Fitzgerald would’ve been better suited with a rating in the mid-80s.
4 Darrelle Revis – Madden NFL 16, 97 OVR
Talking about players who are rated more off their reputations rather than anything else, let’s take a look at Darrelle Revis’ rating for Madden 16. Revis was once known as one of the top defensive players in the league. His specialty? Locking down any given teams top receiver for four quarters. Revis Island was a well-deserved nickname, but by 2015, Revis was getting up there in years and wasn’t making the same plays he used to. Not to say that he wasn’t still a great player, but his play dipped a bit. At the very least, he wasn’t a 97 overall corner anymore. That’s top three corner numbers and we’d have to say that that time was long past.
3 Andrew Luck – Madden NFL 18, 90 OVR
Thinking about Andrew Luck must give some Colts fans anxiety. Though immensely talented, Luck has had issues with interceptions since coming into the league. But the real cause for concern is his shoulder. The injury kept him out all of last season, and has troubled him in the past.
So while Luck is a great young passer, his injury history should’ve had a larger impact on his rating.
He’s had some very good years, which is what makes this all so hard to gauge. When healthy and on the field, Luck is a playmaker who can guide the offense with ease. But as we’ve seen, injuries can really affect some player’s ratings, while some players aren’t affected in the slightest. Luck stands somewhere in the middle.
2 David Johnson – Madden NFL 17, 89 OVR
At the time of Madden 17’s release, you probably couldn’t find a better young runner than David Johnson. The Cardinals Pro Bowl runner took the league by storm during his rookie season and hasn’t turned back since. Think of a crossover between LaDainian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk on the gridiron. He’s quick, powerful, explosive and reliable in the passing game, as well as picking up the blitz. While Le’Veon Bell is certainly one of the best running backs in the league, Johnson should’ve been the top-rated running back in this game, yet he’s nowhere close. This was fixed of course, in following entries. But we have to wonder what EA was thinking of when handing out this rating.
1 Odell Beckham – Madden NFL 16, 94 OVR
Madden has had a history of favoring the game’s yearly cover athletes in whichever iteration they’re featured in. Madden 16 just so happened to be Odell Beckham’s turn in the spotlight. While he certainly benefited in-game from this, there was much to be desired and a whole lot more to be questioned.
Despite being the cover athlete, Beckham is only the fourth best receiver in the game.
Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown and Calvin Johnson are all ahead of him. This usually doesn’t happen, as the cover athlete is often some sort of unstoppable monster. The fact that it isn’t the case this time around is kind of frustrating and makes you question why that’s the case. He certainly has the talent to be considered the best.