2016 NFL Draft Superlatives in Madden NFL 17

Jordan Howard of the Chicago Bears in Madden NFL 17

Jordan Howard of the Chicago Bears salutes the Soldier Field faithful in a screenshot captured from EA SPORTS Madden NFL 17. Screenshot © Depth in Gaming.

As we continue our ongoing review of the 2016 NFL Draft here at Video Game Numbers, today we take a more individual look at some of the rookies who were drafted. Once again, we’re working on research done at the Madden Player Ratings Database, where we’ve taken the 253 players drafted last season and recorded their OVR rating at the launch of Madden NFL 17 and compared it to their OVR rating after Super Bowl LI and the end of the season.

Without further ado, a closer look at some individual numbers…

First Impressions: Top 10 Rookies at Launch

One of the best things about the NFL Draft is that it gives sportswriters and sports talk radio something to talk about when the season is still months away from kickoff. And, of course, immediately after the Draft finished, everyone wants to crown winners and losers before a single snap is taken. So, let’s take a look at the Top 10 Rookies by OVR at the launch of Madden NFL 17:

videogamenumberstop10launch

Unsurprisingly, eight of the top ten rookies come from the first round. If you expand out to the top 32 rookies, the only players not from the first round are:

  • Roberto Aguayo, K, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (79) — Round 2, Pick 59
  • Hunter Henry, TE, San Diego Chargers (78) — Round 2, Pick 35
  • Drew Kaser, P, San Diego Chargers (76) — Round 6, Pick 179
  • Mackensie Alexander, CB, Minnesota Vikings (75) — Round 2, Pick 54
  • Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants (74) — Round 2, Pick 40
  • Derrick Henry, HB, Tennessee Titans (74) — Round 2, Pick 45
  • C.J. Prosise, HB, Seattle Seahawks (74) — Round 3, Pick 90

This makes sense; at the beginning of the season, with no professional experience, valuing the first round picks more highly is entirely logical. After the benefit of a full season of play, however…

Freshmen Sensation: Top 10 Rookies at End of Season

No need to drum roll too long here; there are changes to the Top 10 at the end of the season for our 2016 NFL Draft class:

videogamenumberstop10end

To nobody’s surprise, Ezekiel Elliott’s monster season leaves him at the top of the group (moving up one spot from #2 at launch). Joey Bosa (2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year), Jalen Ramsey, and Jack Conklin all just shift around in the top four. From there, however, the rest of the Top 10 is brand new, starting with QB Dak Prescott (2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year).

At launch, Prescott was the 56th-ranked rookie by OVR; not a bad jump in the first season under center! Of the six new players making the Top 10 at the end of the season, four of them saw double-digit increases in their OVR from where they started at launch. This leads us nicely into…

Greatest Positive OVR Change

Between the launch of Madden NFL 17 and the end of the season, four players saw an incredible increase of 16 points in their OVR rating:

  1. Cody Whitehair, C, Chicago Bears (69 to 85)
  2. Jordan Howard, HB, Chicago Bears (66 to 82)
  3. Jatavis Brown, MLB, San Diego Chargers (63 to 79)
  4. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (65 to 81)

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The next round of big movers came in at a 14 point improvement, including:

  • Andy Janovich, FB, Denver Broncos (68 to 82)
  • Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (71 to 85)
  • Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (70 to 84)

Greatest Negative OVR Change

While four players shared the honor of the greatest positive improvement, only one player takes the distinction of the great negative change with a 10 point drop:

  • Derek Watt, FB, San Diego Chargers (71 to 61)

After the Chargers FB, the next players had a 6 point drop:

  • Germain Ifedi, RG, Seattle Seahawks (75 to 69)
  • Roberto Aguayo, K, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (79 to 73)

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With Derek Watt, the rating arc is really hard to understand; between launch and week 8, he remained at 71 OVR playing in all games but only starting one. During this stretch, he rushed once for two yards and caught three passes for 67 yards. After his drop to 61 OVR in week 9, he played in the remaining games with one start, again rushing once for two yards and catching one pass for 16 yards. His end of season stats were two rushes for four yards and four catches for 83 yards. Perhaps the 10 point drop in OVR was merely a “course correction” on a player drafted in the 6th round, pick 198.

Top 5 Draft Gems

To qualify as a Draft Gem for the sake of this article, the player had to be picked later than the 3rd round; here are the best players fitting that criteria, plus their OVR from launch and the end of the season:

  1. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (71 to 85) — Round 4, Pick 135
    • #1 QB in OVR
  2. Jordan Howard, HB, Chicago Bears (66 to 82) — Round 5, Pick 150
    • #2 HB in OVR
  3. Andy Janovich, FB, Denver Broncos (68 to 82) — Round 6, Pick 176
    • #1 FB in OVR
  4. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (65 to 81) — Round 5, Pick 165
    • #2 WR in OVR
  5. Tavon Young, CB, Baltimore Ravens (67 to 80) — Round 4, Pick 104
    • #3 CB in OVR

Top 5 Draft Reaches

Conversely, to qualify as a Draft Reach for the sake of this article, the player had to be picked in the first two rounds; here are the players that–unfortunately for their drafting teams–fit that criteria, plus their OVR from launch and the end of the season:

  1. Darron Lee, MLB, New York Jets (73 to 71) — Round 1, Pick 20
    • #9 of 18 MLB in OVR; better players taken in 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds
  2. Jason Spriggs, LT, Green Bay Packers (70 to 69) — Round 2, Pick 48
    • #4 of 6 LT in OVR; better player was taken in 5th round
  3. Christian Hackenberg, QB, New York Jets (67 to 67) — Round 2, Pick 51
    • #8 of 15 QB in OVR; better players taken in 3rd and 4th rounds
  4. T.J. Green, FS, Indianapolis Colts (71 to 67) — Round 2, Pick 57
    • #6 of 8 FS in OVR; better players taken in 3rd and 4th rounds
  5. Adam Gotsis, RE, Denver Broncos (68 to 66) — Round 2, Pick 63
    • #12 of 14 RE in OVR; better players taken in 3rd, 4th, and 6th rounds

Ultimate Rookie Team, Offense

Here’s a bonus for anyone interested in building a team of the best rookie players as of the end of the season. First up, offense:

  • Center: Cody Whitehair, Chicago Bears (85 OVR)
  • Right Guard: Alex Lewis, Baltimore Ravens (70 OVR)
  • Right Tackle: Jack Conklin, Tennessee Titans (85 OVR)
  • Left Guard: Laremy Tunsil, Miami Dolphins (77 OVR)
  • Left Tackle: Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions (82 OVR)
  • Tight End: Hunter Henry, San Diego Chargers (81 OVR)
  • Wide Receiver: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (84 OVR)
  • Wide Receiver: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (81 OVR)
  • Fullback: Andy Janovich, Denver Broncos (82 OVR)
  • Halfback: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (88 OVR)
  • Quarterback: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (85 OVR)

Ultimate Rookie Team, Defense

  • Defensive Tackle: Sheldon Rankins, New Orleans Saints (78 OVR)
  • Right End: DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers (78 OVR)
  • Left End: Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers (87 OVR)
  • Right Outside Linebacker: Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears (78 OVR)
  • Middle Linebacker: Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons (80 OVR)
  • Middle Linebacker: Jatavis Brown, San Diego Chargers (79 OVR)
  • Left Outside Linebacker: Myles Jack, Jacksonville Jaguars (75 OVR)
  • Cornerback: Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars (85 OVR)
  • Cornerback: James Bradberry, Carolina Panthers (81 OVR)
  • Strong Safety: Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons (83 OVR)
  • Free Safety: Kevin8 Byard, Tennessee Titans (78 OVR)

Ultimate Rookie Team, Special Teams

  • Kicker: Roberto Aguayo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (73 OVR)
  • Punter: Riley Dixon, Denver Broncos (74 OVR)
  • Long Snapper: Jimmy Landes, Detroit Lions (45 OVR)*

* With Jimmy Landes of the Lions, there’s a bit of an asterisk; he was drafted as a Long Snapper, but in Madden NFL 17 there are no players for whom Long Snapper is their primary position. Instead, these players are either put into the game as Tight Ends or Centers and then placed at the top of the Long Snapper depth chart. Landes rates a 45 as a Tight End, but a 59 OVR when placed as Long Snapper. Still not great…

I hope you enjoyed this closer look at some of the great–and not so great–superlatives of the 2016 NFL Draft, per Madden NFL 17. Keep following us on our social media pages so that you know as soon as our next analytical piece goes live!

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