Ahead of the August release of Madden NFL 21, we’re spending the week unveiling player ratings and rankings for the league’s best players.
We’ll start with the quarterbacks on Monday and end with the wide receivers later this week, finishing with a SportsCenter special on Friday, July 17, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN app, which will break down the ratings process and include player interviews. Check out First Take, SportsCenter and Get Up this week to see more Madden interviews and debates.
Let’s get into the ratings for the QBs in Madden NFL 21, which launches to fans on Aug. 25:
There’s a new 99 overall and the old guard of quarterbacks, for the most part, is starting to decline. Four new quarterbacks entered the top 10, and they should remain part of this list for the majority of the next decade.
That includes the cover athlete, Lamar Jackson, and a bunch of other 20-somethings who will be the faces of the league in the 2020s.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (99 overall): Mahomes is the first quarterback not named Drew Brees, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers in decade to earn a 99 overall rating to start a season. Last year’s cover athlete and the highest-rated quarterback for the second straight year, Mahomes threw for 287.9 yards per game and led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl win.
2. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (97 overall): Wilson played at an MVP level last year and could have maybe won the award had Lamar Jackson not had a transcendent season. Wilson threw for over 4,000 yards for the first time since 2016 and hit 30-plus touchdown passes for the third straight year, jumping him up from a 91 overall to start last year and from sixth to second among quarterbacks.
3. Lamar Jackson, Ravens (94 overall): Jackson, this year’s Madden cover athlete, took a massive jump from the start of last season, when he was a 76 overall and the No. 25 quarterback, to his current spot as the No. 3 quarterback in the game. After an MVP season in 2019, the question will be whether Madden developers made him too good — a la Michael Vick in Madden ’04 — causing him to theoretically break the game.
4. Drew Brees, Saints (93 overall): Showing age has no bearing on the start of the game, Brees actually improved one point from where he started last season, as a 92 overall (T-4). One of the most accurate passers ever, Brees completed 70% or more of his throws for the fourth straight season in 2019.
5. Tom Brady, Bucs (90 overall): Twenty years after appearing as QB No. 12 in Madden ’01, it’ll be a first for the future Hall of Famer again — a new team. Going from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady has seen his overall rating drop from a 96 last year to a 90 this season (his worst starting rating since the early 2000s), and moved from second to fifth in QB ratings. This makes sense after Brady had one of his worst statistical 16-game seasons (4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns, 60.8% completions) in a decade. This could be a rating that jumps up quickly, though, considering the offensive options he has around him.
6. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (89 overall): Two years ago, Rodgers was a 99 overall. Last season, he started the year as a 90. Now, for the first time in over a decade, Rodgers will start a season below a 90 at 89 — which is where he ended last season. Rodgers’ completion percentage has dropped each of the past four seasons, and he hasn’t thrown for 30 touchdowns in a season since 2016. Yet Rodgers still moved up a spot in the overall QB ratings from last season, in part due to the decline of Philip Rivers and the retirement of Andrew Luck.
7. Matt Ryan, Falcons (87 overall): Ryan dropped two ratings points and moved up one spot from his start last season (89 overall, eighth overall) after a season where he had his highest interception total (14) since 2015.
Tre’Davious White and Lamar Jackson are among the NFL stars waiting to find out how they’ll be rated for Madden 21, which will be revealed July 13-17 on ESPN.
8. Deshaun Watson, Texans (86 overall): Watson, after his second Pro Bowl appearance, jumped four ratings points even though he had a lower completion percentage, fewer yards and more interceptions than 2018. But Watson is clearly an ascending player, and his rating reflects that.
T-9. Dak Prescott, Cowboys (84 overall): While Prescott’s contract discussions won’t affect his play in Madden, his on-field performance a year ago saw him take a three-point ratings jump. Prescott threw for 30 touchdowns for the first time in his career and 4,902 yards — over 1,000 yards better than his previous best. Like Watson, figure that he’ll continue to move up the QB rankings in years to come.
T-9. Carson Wentz, Eagles (84 overall): Wentz took a two-point jump in the ratings and moved up three spots in the QB rankings to No. 10 after playing 16 games for the first time since his rookie season and throwing for over 4,000 yards for the first time in his career.
Dropped out of the top 10 from last year: No. 3 Philip Rivers; T-4. Andrew Luck (retired), No. 9 Ben Roethlisberger; No. 10 Cam Newton.
Check out more position ratings coming this week.