CINCINNATI -- It has been accepted as a universal truth that Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the game right now.
So it's no surprise that the folks at EA Sports and "Madden NFL 15" ranked him as the No. 1 pass-catcher in this year's video game that hits stores on Aug. 26.
But what about everyone else? Where, for example, does A.J. Green rank?
Third. Or, more specifically, in a tie for third with Houston receiver Andre Johnson. While Calvin Johnson has a 99 overall rating and Brandon Marshall has a 96, Green and Andre Johnson have 95s in the rankings that were announced Thursday. Two tight ends also are rated better than Green and Andre Johnson -- Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are 97 and 96, respectively.
Donny Moore, the "ratings czar" of the Madden franchise, gave ESPN.com a little insight into Green's ranking.
"A.J. is about as consistent of a receiver as you can get," Moore said. "He's got the 91 speed, the 95 agility and 93 acceleration. So of the three physical categories that really impact receivers the most in terms of their movement on the field, he's rated really, really well for a 6-foot-4, 207-pounder. His 94, that ties him in the top 10, and he's No. 7 with a 94 route running. He's also got a 98 spectacular catch rating which ties with Larry Fitzgerald, Alshon Jeffery and Dez Bryant."
Bottom line, fans playing with Green ought to put up a lot of points.
"There's very few things in the game where you can point at that he's lowly rated there," Moore said. "He's solid all across the board."
Green's No. 3 ranking in Madden comes one spot lower than where he came in NFL Network's player-only survey that was published earlier this month. His peers considered him the league's No. 2 receiver, behind only Calvin Johnson. Last season, Green set career highs in catches (98) and yards (1,426), and tied a career high in touchdowns (11).
Along with consulting preseason rankings lists like the NFL Network's and others ESPN.com has run, Moore pores through advanced stats from sites like Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders in order to get a better idea of how he should rank players.
"A lot of it, as you can imagine, is perception based," Moore said. "So if the perception is Blake Bortles is the top quarterback in football for rookies, or A.J. Green is a top 5 or top 2 guy in the rankings, we want to make sure we're there.
"[NFL Network's survey rankings] kind of puts a little bug in our heads like, 'OK, maybe we're a little down on A.J.' So next time he makes a big play, let's maybe make it plus-one there, plus-two there. "
Green should be expected to make big plays in the video game. For some time now the game has had a feature for receivers called "Mossing." It's a metric named after former Vikings and Patriots receiver Randy Moss.
"It basically means a tall receiver that can go up and get the ball. You take control of the guy and you go and get it," Moore said. "You box the guy out, throw a fade, throw it deep, whatever. Get it to the guy and throw it to him. 'Throw it to me, dog, and I'll get it.' That's what Randy said. A.J. Green, that's him. He's not quite got the Randy Moss speed, but he's got the hands, he's got the jumping, he's got the spectacular play ability, and he's just a guy where if you go in and put him on your team in franchise mode for 10 years then you'll be set."
Set? If only it were that easy in real life, right, Bengals fans?
The real life Green is entering his fourth year of his rookie deal. The team exercised its fifth-year option on him for 2015, but his future beyond that is uncertain. Obviously the Bengals would like to keep him around long term, but it remains to be seen if they'll be able to do that.
Moore called Bernard a "great weapon to have," and added that Hill had "nice trucking ability."
Another rookie to watch in Cincinnati is cornerback Darqueze Dennard, he added. The first-round pick tied with Jacksonville's Bortles, Tampa Bay's Mike Evans and Dallas' Zack Martin to have the 10th-highest overall rating among rookies. Dennard has an overall rating of 78, but he's rated 92 in press play (that's the highest among rookie defensive backs) and 89 in man coverage. He also has a 90 in speed.
Moore also encouraged Bengals fans to be on the lookout for linebacker Vontaze Burfict, whose speed has been criticized in past games. In this year's game, he has the highest hit power rating of all right outside linebackers, Moore said.
"He gets by by recognizing plays early and going through blocks and continuing to pursue plays," Moore said.