An awesome rookie class of receivers might be one of the best reasons to play Madden NFL 21 (which arrives Aug. 25), as several already strong offensive teams upgraded at the position in April’s draft. EA Sports continues to tease the release by putting out ratings for the NFL’s rookie class day by day, with receivers headlining on Friday. Beyond putting out just their ratings in the game, Madden enlisted Chad Ochocinco to make a follow-up video to what we saw out of Steve Young on Thursday.
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With a wide range of skills and styles, these rookie wide receivers should make an immediate impact both in the NFL and for gamers.
Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders: 76
This makes Ruggs the highest-rated rookie released so far, tying No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow. Not surprisingly, Ruggs’ main attribute in Madden will be his speed, which the developers tagged with a 98. Anyone who relishes the joy of putting Tyreek Hill on a go route or remembers the joys of playing as early-2010s DeSean Jackson and the Eagles will surely get some run with Ruggs as he gives Derek Carr and the Raiders a badly needed deep threat.
Ceedee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys: 75
Just a reminder at how outlandishly good the Cowboys’ receiving corps has the chance to be this year, with Lamb sliding in as perhaps the third or fourth option on a Super Bowl-caliber offense. Lamb doesn’t have the same speed or acceleration rating as Ruggs, but outpaces Ruggs in terms of breaking tackles, toughness, stiff arms, and all the other stuff that generally makes Lamb a menace to tackle.
Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos: 75
Here’s where things get a little wonky. It wasn’t long ago that Jeudy was a presumed top-10 pick, a fairly certain top receiver in a class of studs. Ultimately, Jeudy fell in the NFL Draft, but placing him even with Lamb and below Ruggs feels like an overreaction to the draft order.
Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings: 74
Our first out-of-order rating! Madden buys into Jefferson slightly more than the next guy on this list, despite Jefferson actually being the fifth receiver drafted in the first round. Jefferson is ahead of Jeudy in catching, better than Ruggs with his agility, and the highest among all rookie receivers in what Madden calls “spectacular catch rating,” which encapsulates why Jefferson was a sleeper for many in the draft and should make an impact right away for Minnesota.
Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles: 73
Despite going one spot ahead of Jefferson, the Eagles rookie falls one rating point behind Jefferson. It appears as if this is solely because Madden developers don’t quite buy into Reagor as much as pure catcher, despite his athletic gifts.
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers: 72
Rounding out the first round is Aiyuk, the unheralded Arizona State prospect whose tape against Oregon at home might have you think he’d be rated in the 90s. Aiyuk’s spectacular catch rating is higher than Jeudy’s and tied with Ruggs’, but his speed is on the lower end of the first-rounders as his stamina as a low-volume guy in college.
The rest of the big-name players should be exciting to try out when the game is released, too.
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars: 72
Devin Duvernay, Baltimore Ravens: 71
Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts: 71
Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals: 71
Madden is just as high on this incredible crop of receivers as draftniks and NFL teams were, and considering that many of the best prospects landed on teams with great quarterbacks already, we should see some highlights right away, both by gamers and on the NFL field each Sunday.