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The release of the Steelers’ Madden 21 ratings demonstrate players ability and potential in 2020

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The Madden 21 ratings release shows developers and the rest of the NFL are sleeping on a primed and talented Steelers roster.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

On Friday, EA released the Madden NFL 21 ratings for all teams and all players, to which much of the NFL, and Steelers’ fans online, responded with a collective:

It’s certainly no surprise Madden developers have lived up to their reputation of recent times, by handing a number of harsh and puzzling overall ratings to players on every team, and especially the Steelers.

First, now all the ratings have been confirmed, it’s time for me to swallow some humble-pie by comparing actual rating with my rookie ratings predictions made last week:

  • (Round 3) Alex Highsmith (OLB): 68 - Madden 21 Launch Rating: 67
  • (Round 4) - Anthony McFarland (RB): 63 - Madden 21 Launch Rating: 67
  • (Round 4) - Kevin Dotson (G): 64 - Madden 21 Launch Rating: 63
  • (Round 6) Antoine Brooks Jr. (S): 62 - Madden 21 Launch Rating: 66
  • (Round 7) Carlos Davis (DT): 58 - Madden 21 Launch Rating: 61

While close with Highsmith and Dotson’s prediction, I missed on all the rookie ratings for the Steelers’ draft picks. However, as per the list of the Steelers’ overall launch ratings for Madden 21, developers are yet to share any ratings for undrafted rookie free agents (Madden players can likely expect this once a preseason starts/first roster cuts are made). These ratings are a pleasant surprise from Madden Developers who are rewarding late round draft picks with increased ratings compared to the last few Madden editions. It’s also great to see rookie running backs not an almost automatic roster cut because they’re so impaired by ratings to the point they aren’t able to be developed or built into the game-day rotation.

Looking beyond the pure overall ratings of Steelers players, the leaders across the most important and common attributes are:

  • Speed: Claypool (92), Whyte Jr. (92), Blacknall (92), McFarland (91), Cain (91), Washington (91), Johnson (91) & Smith-Schuster (91).
  • Awareness: Heyward (97), Tuitt (94), Pouncey (92), Haden (91), Roethlisberger (90), Villanueva (89), Watt (89), Fitzpatrick (89) & Smith-Schuster (89).
  • Change of Direction: Switzer (94), Layne (90), McFarland (89), Johnson (89), Hilton (89), Fitzparick (89) & Nelson (89)

Speed is fundamental to all aspects of Madden (like in the NFL) and is an extremely difficult rating to improve in the game (as in real life) with awareness potentially the most important common attribute across offense and defense, as this measures players’ ability to respond to game situations (in previous editions, the most important rating to boost).

‘Change of Direction’ is a new attribute in Madden 21, which unlike its predecessor — the ‘Elusiveness’ rating — is applicable to players on both sides of the ball, not just offensive players. As per a recent tweet from Clint Oldenburg, Madden’s Rating Adjuster, explains what this rating means for in-game players:

Madden players will also have an advantage during all divisional games, as the Steelers have the most players with a COD rating of 88+ in the AFC North.

While Madden’s developers have received strong criticism for these launch ratings, which is likely to continue well into the season until ratings are updated based on performance, there are reports that overall ratings will be less important than each players’ individual positional attribute ratings. By looking at these positional attributes specifically, there is a lot of hope and opportunity for Steelers fans on Madden, and certainly in the NFL, if Steelers players can perform in-line with these ratings and rankings:

  • Stephon Tuitt (tied-5th) and Cameron Heyward (tied-8th) are both in the Madden 21’s top 20 in-game players for their ‘Block Shedding’ rating.
  • Both James Conner (7th) & Benny Snell Jr. (9th) have ‘Stamina’ ratings in the NFL’s Top 20 for running-backs, which is fundamental to their down-hill running style and backing up on multiple plays throughout a drive.
  • The Steelers’ young middle-linebackers in Devin Bush (tied-3rd) and Ulysees Gilbert III (tied-5th) are among the fastest at the position in Madden 21, with ‘Speed’ ratings of 90 and 88 respectively, with Devin White of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the fastest at 92.
  • Among all wide-receivers, JuJu Smith-Schuster is 2nd for his ‘Lead Block’ rating, tied-6th for ‘Catch in Traffic’ rating, tied-8th for ‘Spectacular Catch’ and tied-6th for ‘Strength’. JuJu’s overall rating (86) is being let down by his route running ratings (‘Short Route Running’, ‘Medium Route Running’ and ‘Deep Route Running’), which is more reflective of his 3 seasons of experience and developers leaving room for him to improve.
  • Of all outside linebackers, T.J. Watt is tied-6th for ‘Awareness’, 10th for ‘Power Moves’, 3rd for ‘Finesse Moves’, tied-5th for ‘Block Shedding’ and tied-7th for his ‘Pursuit’ rating. This places Watt in the NFL’s elite, demonstrating the unfairness of his overall rating of 86, however, it’s likely he’ll jump into the early 90s in the first 4-6 weeks of the season - if he plays up to these individual attributes.
  • The Steelers’ secondary is the best in years and their Madden 21 ratings highlight their reported potential to be elite in 2020 and their place among the NFL’s leading cornerback units. Steven Nelson is tied-2nd for ‘Block Shedding’, tied-12th for ‘Man Coverage’, tied-16th for ‘Play Recognition’, tied-17th for ‘Zone Coverage’, tied-8th for ‘Pursuit’ and tied-10th for ‘Awareness’. With Mike Hilton tied-4th for ‘Block Shedding’, tied-14th for ‘Man Coverage’, tied-7th for ‘Play Recognition’, tied-10th for ‘Zone Coverage’, tied-5th for ‘Pursuit’ and tied-10th for ‘Awareness’. While, Joe Haden is tied-12th for ‘Man Coverage’, tied-11th for ‘Play Recognition’, tied-15th ‘Zone Coverage’ and tied-5th for ‘Awareness’.

Current Madden 21 ratings for the Steelers Roster (excluding Rookie UDFAs):

  1. David DeCastro (RG) – 91
  2. Cameron Heyward (RE) – 90
  3. Minkah Fitzpatrick (FS) – 87
  4. Stephon Tuitt (LE) – 87
  5. Maurkice Pouncey (C) – 86
  6. JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR) – 86
  7. T.J. Watt (LOLB) – 86
  8. Eric Ebron (TE) – 84
  9. Joe Haden (CB) – 83
  10. Alejandro Villanueva (LT) – 82
  11. Chris Boswell (K) - 82
  12. Ben Roethlisberger (QB) - 81
  13. James Conner (HB) - 81
  14. Mike Hilton (CB) - 81
  15. Steven Nelson (CB) - 81
  16. Bud Dupree (ROLB) - 80
  17. James Washington (WR) - 78
  18. Vince Williams (MLB) - 77
  19. Devin Bush (MLB) - 76
  20. Dionte Johnson (WR) - 76
  21. Vance McDonald (TE) - 76
  22. Jordan Berry (P) - 75
  23. Terrell Edmunds (SS) - 74
  24. Benny Snell Jr. (HB) - 72
  25. Jaylen Samuels (HB) - 72
  26. Ryan Switzer (WR) - 72
  27. Tyson Alualu (LE) - 72
  28. Derek Watt (FB) - 71
  29. Matt Feiler (RT) - 71
  30. Chase Claypool (WR) - 70
  31. Justin Layne (CB) - 70
  32. Cam Sutton (CB) - 69
  33. Deon Cain (WR) - 68
  34. Stefen Wisniewski (LG) - 68
  35. Alex Highsmith (ROLB) - 67
  36. Amara Darboh (WR) - 67
  37. Anthony McFarland (HB) - 67
  38. Chris Wormley (DT) - 67
  39. Jordan Dangerfield (SS) - 67
  40. Antoine Brooks Jr. (SS) - 66
  41. Chukwuma Okorafor (LT) - 66
  42. Daniel McCullers (DT) - 66
  43. Anthony Johnson (WR) - 65
  44. Isaiah Buggs (RE) - 64
  45. Kerrith Whyte Jr. (HB) - 64
  46. Saeed Blacknall (WR) - 64
  47. Trey Edmunds (HB) - 64
  48. Kevin Dotson (LG) - 63
  49. Marcus Allen (FS) - 63
  50. Mason Rudolph (QB) - 63
  51. Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (ROLB) - 63
  52. Tuzar Skipper (LOLB) - 63
  53. Quadree Henderson (WR) - 62
  54. Ulysees Gilbert III (MLB) - 62
  55. Arrion Springs (CB) - 61
  56. Carlos Davis (LE) - 61
  57. Robert Spillane (MLB) - 60
  58. Breon Borders (CB) - 59
  59. Calvin Taylor (RE) - 59
  60. Zach Banner (RT) - 59
  61. Devlin Hodges (QB) - 58
  62. Zach Gentry (TE) - 58
  63. Derwin Gray (LT) - 57
  64. Jarron Jones (LT) - 57
  65. Paxton Lynch (QB) - 56
  66. Christian DiLauro (RG) - 55
  67. J.C. Hassenauer (C) - 52
  68. J.T. Barrett IV (QB) - 50
  69. Kameron Canaday (TE) - 26

Whether you’re a Madden player, don’t care about Madden ratings, or have never even seen Madden being played, we all have our opinions on how good or bad NFL players are, their career potential, and the impact they’ll have on the Steelers’ success in 2020.

I’d like to hear if you which Steelers’ ratings surprised you most? Are these ratings a fair assessment of the overall roster? Which players need a ratings boost, trim or big cut?