I have a complicated relationship with the Madden NFL series. I'm generally always convinced that I'm ready to quit it given that the games aren't ... particularly great video games, thanks to EA's exclusive license with the NFL. Yet just a couple days ago, I ordered an Xbox One Madden NFL 15 bundle -- granted at the same price I was already going to pay for an Xbox One -- and I'll, obviously, play Madden before I play anything else.
The last post I wrote on ratings, I said that I wasn't too excited about the game -- and that's true -- but that I always love the pre-release ratings bonanza -- that's also true. On Wednesday, EA finally came out with the final divisions, which included the AFC and NFC West. This means we finally have the full ratings for the San Francisco 49ers, which means I get to do my yearly "this sucks and this sucks and this is OK I guess" look at them.
At the bottom of this post, I have the full overall ratings for the 49ers roster, and you can find the full ratings with all of the attributes at this document here. But let's take a look at some of the interesting stuff below ...
-There are 11 49ers players ranked 90 or better, three of whom are ranked 96 -- NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willisand Aldon Smith. But I'm concerned with the guy who comes in fourth on the team with a 95 overall rating .... punterAndy Lee! YEAH BUDDY! [Aside: They absolutely should put a punter on the cover of next year's game, you know, to honor Ray Guy]
-Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has a titanic catch rating of 96. That's four points higher than Anquan Boldin. Boldin is rated higher overall, though.
-Safety Antoine Bethea comes in with an 87 overall rating. There's not a ton of standout strong safeties in the NFL, and the good ones all hold higher-than-you-might-think ratings on the Madden games. I'm glad Bethea's sound play has him rated so highly.
-All of the 49ers' big newcomers seem to be rated well. Bethea comes in at 87, Stevie Johnson at 86, Brandon Lloyd at 78, etc.
-A quiet year for Ray McDonald and Bruce Miller haven't hurt hem much. Both players come in with an 87 rating.
-To me, the 83 overall rating for Alex Boone sticks out like a sore thumb. I think Boone is an excellent player and he has shown, over the past two seasons, to be among the NFL's best at the guard position. Please -- for the love of all that is good and pure -- do not present a counter-argument in the form of a link to Pro Football Focus' ratings. Just don't.
-It's a little odd that Bowman's speed rating (83) is so much lower than Willis' speed rating of 90. This isn't horrible, but I can't imagine Donny Moore and the ratings guys going over tape and actually coming up with an argument for a seven-point differential in speed. If you don't know, speed is one of the most important ratings on Madden and seven points is a mighty swing.
-As usual, Madden thinks Michael Crabtree is the slowest receiver in the NFL. OK, not really, but his 88 rating in speed is laughable.
-Truthfully, I don't see how Mike Iupati is a 90 overall. I personally feel as though he and Boone should swap ratings, though I think an 85-87 is most appropriate for Iupati at the end of the day. I assume this statement is the one you guys are going to freak out about, right?
-We can talk about him impressing at training camp all day long, but a week before camp started, not a single person here thought Brandon Lloyd had anything to offer an NFL team anymore. A few practices doesn't change that. I still maintain that Lloyd will only make the roster in case of an injury, and think a 78 overall rating is mighty generous in Madden.
-A 79 rating for Chris Cook seems totally random as well. He's a fringe player one spot above Chris Culliver in the ratings. I suppose that's understandable for Culliver given his injuries and general lack of experience, though.
-I feel like safety Eric Reid is a little underrated. He comes in at 81 overall and his hit power is 93, which is respectable but lower than Willis and Bowman, which I think is off. Reid is probably the hardest hitter on the team, especially with Donte Whitner departing in free agency.
-No Lawrence Okoye. RIOOOOOOOOOOOOOT IN THE STREETS!
-I think amid the holdout and everything else, it's kind of easy to forget that tight end Vernon Davis is, you know, really good. I expected him to be in the 89-91 range, but he's fifth on the team, along with Joe Staley, with a 94 overall rating.
-While I think the toughness attribute is dubious and probably useless at the end of the day, it's worth noting that Boldin has the highest rating on the team in that attribute: a 99.
-Bowman is the best tackler on the team with a 99 rating, with Willis, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks all posting higher than 90 as well.
-Cornerbacks Darryl Morris, Dontae Johnson and Keith Reaser are all faster than running back LaMichael James. They're rated 94, 93 and 94 respectively, with James coming in at 92, tied with Bruce Ellington.
-I expected Justin Smith to take a bigger hit in rating than he did. He started last season around a 97 rating, and plummeted when injured (an idiotic trend with these games). I was expecting them to drop him to around 89, but he comes in at 92 overall.
-Tramaine Brock comes in at just 82 overall. I'm not going to list this under "the bad" because I think I might be biased (you tell me), but I was under the impression that Brock had more than a half season of top-level play last year. He's got a lot more to prove, granted, but I was expecting something in the 86 range.
-The weak point on the team: center. Daniel Kilgore ranks 75 overall, while rookie Marcus Martin comes in at 71.
-I feel like there's a lot of players ranked in the low eighties and high seventies that should be ranked in the mid-eighties, and a lot of players ranked in the mid-seventies that should probably be ranked in the sixties.