We’re still a few weeks away from the release of “Madden NFL 17,” but we have the final player ratings to chew on until then. Here are the players who landed the coveted 99 overall ratings.
Gronkowski is one of just three players since the merger to score 65 receiving TDs in his first six seasons. The other two? Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. (And just think what Gronk could have done if he hadn’t missed 16 regular-season games during that span.) Last season, Gronkowski dropped only one ball on 120 targets, and “Madden NFL 17” rewarded him with an average rating of 95.7 in the three catch-related subcategories. And don’t underrate Gronk’s ability to create fireworks after the catch. His combination of strength (88 rating) and agility (85) made him tough to bring down in the open field, and he averaged 7.67 YAC per reception last season, tops among tight ends.
How much better is Kuechly than his peers? Here’s one illustration: “Madden NFL 17” lists 20 positions other than middle linebacker, and the top-two players at each are separated by the slim average of 2.15 rating points. And then there’s Kuechly’s position, where he is nine points ahead of the next-closest middle linebackers, Brandon Marshall and Derrick Johnson, who both are rated as 90s. “Madden NFL 17” rated Kuechly as 97 or better in seven categories, ranging from tackling to toughness, but it underrated his man-coverage skills, giving him a 74. I dare you to watch the way Kuechly sticks with Julio Jones down the seam on this play and tell me he deserves a 74.
Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos
Miller’s five sacks and two forced fumbles in the Broncos’ final two games sealed his Super Bowl MVP award, his record-breaking $114.5 million contract, and his 99 rating in “Madden NFL 17.” Three plays from Super Bowl 50 exhibit why there’s no one in the NFL quite like Miller:
- Third-and-10, first quarter: Miller zooms around right tackle Mike Remmers with a speed rush. Forced fumble. Broncos touchdown.
- Third-and-8, third quarter: Miller fools Remmers with an outside-inside spin move. Half sack. Panthers punt.
- Third-and-9, fourth quarter: Miller fights through a Remmers hold around the edge. Forced fumble. Broncos recover.
A few takeaways: 1) Poor Remmers. 2) Stay out of third-and-long against Miller and the Broncos. 3) Miller isn’t a one-trick pony. He’ll beat you with acceleration around the edge (88 rating), he’ll leave you flailing with that finesse move (98), and he’ll shed half-hearted blocks with ease (95).
J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Watt has gotten used to his place in Madden’s 99 club. This marks his fourth consecutive year with such a distinction. He needs two more 99s to match Peyton Manning’s record of six straight years (Madden ’06-11). Watt has a 90-plus rating in 11 subcategories, two more than any player to make this list. The ones he’s probably most proud of? Stamina (95) and toughness (94). Watt played through a herniated disk in his back and five torn muscles in his torso, groin and upper legs last season. He has paced all defensive linemen with 4,498 snaps played since 2011, but Watt’s streak of 80 consecutive starts is in jeopardy after recently undergoing back surgery.