It’s incredible the noise a videogame can create in pro sports. On July 15th, the EA Sports brand football game Madden released it’s player ratings for the upcoming 2020 edition. Among the top-rated players are obvious faces of the NFL such as Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, and Bobby Wagner. However, the buzz created by the Madden ratings release is always more about who is being ‘slept on’ by the rating curators as opposed to who is actually great in-game and in real life.
Perhaps a team that is continually disrespected by the Madden ratings gurus are the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are a team that has had consistent success over the past decade and somehow are still always undermind. This year is no different. Baltimore is once again coming off of a stellar defensive season in which they finished as the number one yardage defense in the NFL. Yet, the highest-rated defender on their team is a player who wasn’t even on the team last season. No disrespect to Earl Thomas (95 OVR) as he is probably the best free safety in pro football, but there are a number of Ravens from last season’s defense that rank significantly lower than their on-field play suggests. This carries onto the offense side of the ball as well.
These are five Ravens who will see their Madden rating increase throughout the 2019 season.
Five Baltimore Ravens Whose Madden Ratings Will Be Higher at the End of 2019
5. Shane Ray (Left Outside Linebacker) – 73 OVR
Though this upgrade largely depends on who establishes themselves as the best pass rusher amongst the group brought in to replace Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, Ray looks like a candidate to have a bounceback year in Baltimore. He was a beast coming out of college and there is far less pressure on him after signing a one-year deal with the Ravens.
It’s unlikely Ray puts up sacks in the mid-teens like he was expected to following the draft but he has a great opportunity to play angry in 2019. With Ray’s motor at an all-time high, he is a candidate to lead the Ravens in sacks assuming he makes a strong impression right out of camp. Also remember, Ray doesn’t need to start to have a big year. Don Martindale is incredibly creative and can find ways to get Ray involved and productive. Elvis Dumervil had 26.5 sacks his first two years as a Ravens despite only starting five games.
Ray had his best season in 2016 with the Denver Broncos, putting up 8.0 sacks, a forced fumble, and 21 quarterback hits. One pass rusher always seems to emerge for the Ravens every year, like a Smith or Matt Judon, and Ray looks poised to be that guy this upcoming year.
End of year OVR prediction: 80
4. Tavon Young (Cornerback) – 77 OVR
The first member on this list of the disrespected secondary, Young is the only member of the starting five with a rating under 84 OVR.
He wasn’t as impressive in 2018 as he was as a rookie in 2016 but was transitioning to a full-time nickel role and still made a number of huge plays down the stretch for Baltimore. His 0.98 yards allowed per cover snap was second-best to only Brian Poole amongst rookies in 2016. Young played 355 of his coverage snaps in slot in comparison to nine outside. Now with a year adjusting to a new position, Young is set to have a breakout year and maybe become the best slot corner in football.
This only comes, of course, if he can match his rookie success as an outside corner with his new position in 2019. There’s a ton of room for improvement in Young’s game even if he was still solid in 2018. This makes him the perfect candidate for an OVR jump this season. Having such good company surrounding him in the secondary should also make Young more comfortable in the current Ravens defense.
End of year OVR prediction: 81
3. Mark Andrews (Tight End) – 79 OVR
The tight end rankings were definitely some of the most confusing among any position in the game. Though the group does seem to be a bit all over the place, Andrews still seems heavily underrated. Specifically, because there are a ton of players at his position that barely made an impact in 2018 and yet, sit with a higher OVR.
For example, I get that Jason Witten is a future Hall of Famer whenever he decides to stay retired, but he has an OVR four points higher than Andrews. In Witten’s last season for the Dallas Cowboys, he had 560 receiving yards playing and starting in all 16 regular-season games. Andrews last year for the Ravens had 552, eight less than Witten, as a three-game starter in a crowded tight end position group. Witten is now a year removed from football-related activities and has just turned 37. Another comparable player is the Philadelphia Eagles’ Dallas Goedert. In a similar committee to Andrews, Goedert only had 334 receiving yards and one fewer reception than Andrews. He has an 80 OVR. Both are entering their second seasons and Goedert is over two and a half years older.
There are also around five other tight ends you could make the argument against being rated higher than Andrews.
Andrews looks like a special kind of receiving tight end and if used to his full potential, could be a breakout star in 2019. Judging by the ways the tight ends are currently ranked, Andrews OVR could skyrocket as more people get a look at him.
End of year OVR prediction: 85
2. Lamar Jackson (Quarterback) – 76 OVR
This rating doesn’t seem as absurd as number one and number three on this list. However, it would be hard for Jackson to have his OVR lowered as he enters his first season as an every game starter. The higher quarterback ratings in Madden 20 are more controversial than they are in the middle. Jackson is part of a large group of quarterbacks that make up the 74-80 OVR area but Madden is always very dramatic when it comes to changing their quarterback ratings every week.
The way Jackson will improve his OVR will not be with his legs but with his arm. There were far too many times last season when Jackson was missing his receivers by a wide margin, giving him a lot of room to better himself this coming season. Jackson has had a whole summer to get on page with his new receivers and will practice with the first-team unlike when he was behind Joe Flacco. If Jackson can replicate the success he had on the ground, even if his rushing numbers over a 16-game season match those of his seven-game season last year, and his passing numbers are just average, there’s a good chance he becomes one of the best and most fun to use players in the whole game.
With the way that quarterback ratings tend to fluctuate, 76 OVR is likely Jackson’s floor. He’s too good of an athlete to be dropped any lower, even if he was a backup. How high he rises is a more complicated variable.
End of year OVR prediction: 80
1. Marlon Humphrey (Cornerback) – 85 OVR
I get that the Madden rating system has changed from in years past but how did Humphrey’s rating not receive an upgrade from the end of the 2018 season? The second-year corner finished Madden 19 with the same 85 OVR despite a ratings model change in the new game. Tied as the 19th best corner in the NFL, there isn’t a lot that Humphrey could do to have his rating lowered anymore. Seeing names like Byron Jones, Kendall Fuller, and Desmond Trufant all 2+ points higher can’t keep you from scratching your head.
2019 was Humphrey’s coming out party as he was forced into action as a number one corner due to Jimmy Smith‘s suspension early in the season. Over the year, he drew matchups with some of the leagues top receivers, and still finished as one of the leagues top corners. Humphrey was the highest-graded member of the Ravens secondary in 2018 per PFF and finished the year allowing the seventh-lowest catch rate when targeted amongst qualifying NFL corners. He also included a pick in probably the Ravens biggest win of the year Week 16 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
It’s not a coincidence that the Ravens lost the only two games in which Humphrey didn’t play in last season. He and Smith are one of (if not) the best cornerback tandems in the NFL and Madden needs to give the two some more credit. Humphrey could already be a top-five corner in the league and if he progresses the same way he did after his rookie year, will be compensated in-game very soon.
His QB has his back too:
Definitely I see 99 overall everyday 😩 https://t.co/9c4RvdRzTs
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) July 16, 2019
End of year OVR prediction: 90