Madden release day was annually circled on my mental rolodex in the 1990s. I would say calendar, but I never had one back in the day. But, I didn't need one to remember when the new Madden was going to be on the shelves of the Electronics Boutique at the Attleboro, MA mall when I was in college or the Avenues Mall in Jacksonville, FL when I was teaching and coaching there.
It's still a day nearly every football fan looks forward to and that anticipation has grown and grown as Madden continued to gain in popularity.
I don't play the game anymore, but not because I don't want to, I just don't have time to do so. Single, with no kids and some idle time? I'd fire up games on the regular. I will say, though, that I'm as intrigued about the game as ever, especially as it pertains to the ratings each Texans player is given. As I scrolled through my timeline yesterday, I noticed that some NFL teams were touting their particular players' ratings so I wondered if the Texans Madden ratings are out and they are.
Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt is predictably an overall 99, but he's not going to be happy about his speed being a 79 and his agility being a 77. But, 99 is the highest ranking a player can have in the game. Watt is one of four players with an overall 99 grade - Rob Gronkowski, Von Miller and Luke Kuechly are the other three. Interestingly, no quarterbacks are at that 99 level.
Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is next with an overall 93 rating. That is, I believe that's tied for third amongst all receivers - only Steelers Antonio Brown (97) and Falcons Julio Jones (96). I find Hop's strength number at 66 a bit funny considering how difficult it is to body him off the ball at any point.
Cornerback Johnathan Joseph had a stellar year last year and should've been a Pro Bowler. Well, Madden recognized that and rated him as an overall 91. Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus registered an overall 88, as did running back Lamar Miller, who also was tied with the highest speed rating with rookie Will Fuller.
Speaking of Fuller, the rookie receiver from Notre Dame was given an overall 74, while fellow rookie Braxton Miller was a 71, with a team high 94 in agility.
The team's top ten overall rankings are as follows:
J.J. Watt - 99
DeAndre Hopkins - 93
Johnathan Joseph - 91
Whitney Mercilus - 88
Lamar Miller - 88
Duane Brown - 86
Vince Wilfork - 84
Jadeveon Clowney - 83
Derek Newton - 82
(Tie) Brian Cushing, Nick Novak & Jay Prosch - 81
In this day and age, Madden can and does update its rankings throughout the season, so it'll be interesting to see how these ratings change in 2016.