Though the Madden NFL rankings have been leaked in various forms over the past month, we now have the official rankings to dissect and discuss.
First the data: 68 Falcon players have been ranked by Madden over the past two seasons. 10 were ranked for the first time this season. 12 were ranked in 2010 but not in 2011. That leaves us 46 players to compare year over year.
Hit the jump to dive into more Madden nonsense than you can possibly handle.
Most Improved Player:
CB Brent Grimes – My, how a six interception season can change expectations. Last season, QB DJ Shockley (42) was the only Falcon ranked lower than Grimes. Then 2009 happened. Grimes started eight games and led the Falcons in picks. The fourth-year cornerback went from a dismal 46 to an above average 75 – an increase of 29 points. That’s more than twice as much as the next biggest increase.
Other Falcons Rising Up!
QB Chris Redman +14 points
DT Jonathan Babineaux +13 points
FS Thomas DeCoud +13 points
LG Justin Blalock +12 points
RE John Abraham – Abraham is still the fourth-highest rated Falcon in this year’s game so this is not a precipitous drop but it is still the biggest among the Dirty Birds. After a season that saw his sack total decrease by 11 sacks, a lower rating was not unexpected. He was a 95 last season but enters this year’s game as an 89.
Other Falcons Declining
CB Chevis Jackson -5
HB Michael Turner -5
K Matt Bryant -4
HB Jerious Norwood -4
Biggest Position Group Improvement
Quarterbacks – As a group, the Falcons’ Madden ratings increased by an average of 11 points. Matt Ryan only added one point (from 85 to 86) but Chris Redman had a huge 14-point jump thanks to his impressive showing for the Falcons in 2009. The other contributing factor was losing DJ Shockley. His 42 was the worst rating for Atlanta last season and John Parker Wilson’s 60 makes this the most improved position group.
Biggest Position Group Decline
Kickers and Punters – Michael Koenen improved his rating four points – moving from an 80 to an 84. It’s the deficit between having a pre-2009 Jason Elam (94) to a 2010 Matt Bryant (74) that gives this group the biggest decline. On a side note, Steven Hauschka, who was not rated in this year’s game, was a 59 last season.
The Full Rankings
What would the Falcons depth chart look like if we used the Madden ratings as the sole judge? I’m glad you asked.
We know Tony Gonzalez is the best overall Falcon and Eric Weems is rated the worst but which players are the best and worst in the individual categories. Here we go.
Each position has their own specific categories but there are nine general categories that apply to all positions. Kickers and punters are excluded, however, because they rank the worst in almost 50% of the categories.
Best – Jerious Norwood (95)
Worst – Brett Romberg (50)
Norwood has never been called slow. The problem has been keeping him on the field to use that blazing speed. The slowest RB/WR listed was Brian Finneran (72). The fastest lineman is Lawrence Sidbury (84).
Best – Dunta Robinson (96)
Worst – Chris Redman (58)
Best – Justin Blalock (93)
Worst – Harry Douglas (38)
Best – Dominique Franks (96)
Worst – Chris Redman (49)
Best – Tony Gonzalez (99)
Worst – Lawrence Sidbury (43)
Best – Tony Gonzalez (98)
Worst – Jason Snelling (51)
Best – (tie) Kroy Biermann and Keith Zinger (95)
Worst – Brian Finneran (40)
Best – Todd McClure (99)
Worst – Robert James (45)
Best – Sean Weatherspoon (88)
Worst – Kerry Meier (45)
Two rookies are on opposite ends of the swagger spectrum. Weatherspoon provides boisterous leadership on defense while Meier brings a quiet demeanor to the offense.
Blogging Dirty’s Random Notes
Former Falcon CB Chris Houston dropped four points from 75 to 71.
54 Falcons were rated in Madden ’10. 55 have been ranked in this year’s version.
The average ranking for Falcon players in Madden ’10 was 71. This year: 75.
The highest rated position group in Madden ’10 was the kickers and punters with an average of 86. This year it’s the running backs. Average rating: 82.
26 players had their ratings increased. 12 players had their ratings decreased. Eight players remained the same.
The quarterback group has been the lowest rated position, on average, in both versions of the game.