Last year Mike Zimmer revealed a huge secret when the Vikings’ head coach said he’d never played Madden before. But since many fans will play Madden 19, here’s a look at some of the most notable ratings (which were released this week) for this year’s game…
Harrison Smith (97)
Smith is the Vikings’ top rated player, which is a well-deserved honor considering he was last year’s highest rated defensive player by Pro Football Focus. The Vikings’ Pro Bowl safety made a good case for defensive MVP with five interceptions, 1.5 sacks and a career high 12 passes defended. Smith’s rating is up from 93 in 2018.
Xavier Rhodes (92)
Last season Rhodes faced a murderer’s row of top wide receivers and nearly shut them all down. From Michael Thomas to Mike Evans to Antonio Brown to AJ Green, the Vikings’ top corner was often put on an island against the best of the best and came away only allowing 6.4 yards per attempt when targeted (per Football Outsiders). His rating jumped up from 88 last year.
Everson Griffen (92)
Griffen’s rating rose from an 86 last year following a career-best 13.0 sacks. The Vikings’ top edge rusher has the physical makeup of a create-a-player with his strength/speed combination. If a foot injury hadn’t slowed Griffen down toward the end of the year, he might have pushed for the NFL’s lead in sacks. According to Football Outsiders, the Vikings were best in the NFL against runs to Griffen’s side.
Linval Joseph (90)
Madden doesn’t shortchange its nose tackles. While Joseph doesn’t rack up huge tackle or sack numbers, he’s the key cog in the Vikings’ defensive dominance. Joseph can’t be contained by one interior offensive lineman, which allows for mismatches across the D-line. He’s one of the strongest players in the league, but also has good quickness.
Stefon Diggs (90) and Adam Thielen (88)
While Thielen had higher catch totals last year than Diggs, the opposite was true in 2016. Both have turned into top-notch receivers who ranked in PFF’s top 10 in 2017. Giving Diggs a 90 rating recognizes some of the elements of his game that don’t show up in fantasy stats like his contested catch percentage or QB rating on passes thrown his way.
Rashod Hill (66) and Brian O’Neill (72)
The Vikings’ starting right tackle heading into training camp has the same overall rating as Josh Andrews, Colby Gossett, Jack Tocho and Eric Wilson. Meanwhile, their second-round pick who doesn’t appear close to being a starter is rated higher than Nick Easton. There are reasons to question Hill as a starter, but he’s certainly better than players who might not make the team.
Eric Kendricks (79) and Anthony Barr (84)
Since Kendricks and Barr play almost every snap alongside each other, it’s hard to pin down who deserves credit for things like the Vikings ranking No. 1 in passing yards allowed to opposing running backs last year. Based on PFF ratings, they should be closer. Each has his own talents that stand out around the league. Kendricks is better in coverage, Barr is a better pass rusher. But there isn’t a big gap in their value to the defense.
Kirk Cousins (82)
Quarterback ratings are tough. This isn’t the old days of Madden where a guy had throw power and throw accuracy. Now QBs have 50 categories that determine their overall grade. So it’s hard to say where Cousins got dinged, but he should probably be more than one rating point higher than Case Keenum. He’s 16th overall, which might be a fair grade of his 2017 season, but if the team maximizes his skills, there’s a good chance he ends up with a higher rating on Madden 20.
Pat Elflein (75)
PFF was hard on Elflein, but his teammates might make a compelling argument that the second-year center is on his way to being a franchise lineman. Elflein showed exceptional ability in space and strong leadership qualities as a rookie. By the end of the year, he very well may be considered the Vikings’ best offensive lineman.