<
>

Top-rated players at every position in 'Madden NFL 17'

We're still a few weeks away from the release of "Madden NFL 17," but we have the final player ratings to chew on until then. Here are the players who landed the top ratings at each position.

For a separate breakdown of the players who scored 99 overall ratings this year, click here.


Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers (96)

Best sub-category: Throw power (98)

Rodgers was the lone quarterback last season with a 99 overall rating. His slight dip in Madden NFL 17 comes after posting his lowest completion rate for a full NFL season (60.7 percent). The Packers didn't put his rocket arm to much use in 2015; Rodgers threw more passes at or behind the line of scrimmage than ever before (28.5 percent, 32nd out of 35 qualifiers).

Next-closest QBs: Tom Brady and Cam Newton (94)


Running back: Le'Veon Bell (94)

Best sub-category: Carrying (99)

A running back built for 2016, Bell is formidable in the open field -- 97 rating in juke move; 95s in both agility and elusiveness. During the 24-game stretch from the start of the 2014 season through Bell's Week 8 injury last year, the Steelers RB gained 207 more yards from scrimmage than the next-closest player (DeMarco Murray).

Next-closest RB: Adrian Peterson (91)


Wide receiver: Antonio Brown (97)

Best sub-category: Catching (99)

Brown has more than earned his 99-catch rating. Since 2013, he has been targeted an NFL-high 536 times and dropped exactly 13 passes. For comparison, Brandon Marshall has been targeted 98 fewer times during that span and dropped 10 more passes.

Next-closest WR: Julio Jones (96)


Tight end: Rob Gronkowski (99)

Best sub-category: Catch in traffic (98)

Tom Brady would give Gronk a 999 overall rating if he could. Since 2011, when Gronkowski is on the field, Brady's stats read: 4.25 TD/INT ratio, 73.1 Total QBR, 7.85 yards per attempt. Without Gronk on the field, Brady's numbers take a dive: 2.07 TD/INT ratio, 56.6 Total QBR, 6.81 yards per attempt. Translation: Gronk makes a pretty big difference to one of the best QBs in football.

Next-closest TEs: Greg Olsen and Delanie Walker (93)


Offensive tackle: Tyron Smith (98)

Best sub-categories: Run blocking and pass blocking (98)

Smith has been Dallas' full-time left tackle for the past four seasons, and during the span, the Cowboys have averaged 3.37 yards per carry before contact when running toward Smith's side. That's 28 percent better than the Cowboys' YPCBC on rushes to all other directions (2.63).

Next-closest OT: Joe Thomas (96)


Guard: Marshal Yanda (97)

Best sub-category: Toughness (99)

Let's start with this: Over the past three seasons, Yanda has missed exactly 16 of the Ravens' 3,194 offensive snaps, while playing almost exclusively at right guard. The results match the consistency: Baltimore gained an NFL-high 1,476 yards when running that direction. No wonder "Madden NFL 17" gave Yanda a 98 run-blocking rating.

Next-closest OG: Zack Martin (92)


Center: Travis Frederick (91)

Best sub-category: Impact blocking and run-block strength (99)

Since drafting Frederick in the 2013 first round, the Cowboys have scored a touchdown on every 18 rushes up the middle. That ranks second overall. Frederick is one of only two centers since the merger to make the Pro Bowl twice in his first three seasons.

Next-closest OCs: Maurkice Pouncey and Weston Richburg (88)


Defensive end: J.J. Watt (99)

Best sub-category: Power moves (99)

Of all the amazing stats with Watt -- and there are plenty to choose from -- this might be the best: He has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards in his first five seasons. Only one other player, Lawrence Taylor, ever won that many in his entire career. The only surprise is that Watt didn't score 99s in more of the sub-categories.

Next-closest DE: Jurrell Casey (93)


Defensive tackle: Aaron Donald (98)

Best sub-categories: Block shedding and power moves (98)

At the 2014 NFL combine, Donald wowed with 35 reps on the bench press. That's tied for the most among defensive tackles in the past three years. It was a precursor of things to come: Donald has spent his first two seasons wrecking NFL offenses with his raw power from the interior, racking up 20 total sacks.

Next-closest DT: Geno Atkins (94)


Outsider linebacker: Von Miller (99)

Best sub-categories: Finesse moves and pursuit (98)

If you're ranking the NFL's biggest size-speed freaks, the 250-pound Miller -- who ran a 4.53 40 at the NFL combine -- would have to be near the top of the list. Miller unleashed that athleticism when it mattered most last season, disrupting opposing QBs on 6.4 percent of dropbacks in the Broncos' final two games. For some context, J.J. Watt led the league with a disrupted dropback percentage of 4.3 in 2015.

Next-closest OLB: Justin Houston (97)


Middle linebacker: Luke Kuechly (99)

Best sub-categories: Stamina and toughness (99)

"Madden NFL 17" doesn't have a consistency rating, but if it did, Kuechly would surely score 99. In his four NFL seasons, he has ranked first, fourth, fourth and eighth in tackles per game. Those numbers almost make Kuechly's 98 tackling rating seem too low. His 21 passes defensed and 11 interceptions lead all linebackers since 2012, thanks in large part to his awareness in coverage (98 rating).

Next-closest MLBs: Derrick Johnson and Brandon Marshall (90)


Cornerback: Josh Norman (94)

Best sub-categories: Injury and zone coverage (97)

Think these ratings don't matter to players? Think again. The Cardinals' Patrick Peterson voiced his displeasure on Twitter when he found out Norman scored the No. 1 CB spot. And Norman predictably trolled Peterson for finishing fourth with a 91 rating. Norman's 97 rating in zone coverage was the highest among all CBs and will be more fodder for Peterson, who prides himself on being a shutdown man-to-man corner.

Next-closest CB: Chris Harris Jr. (93)


Safety: Tyrann Mathieu (96)

Best sub-category: Man coverage (96)

One caveat here: Mathieu played less than 12 percent of his snaps at safety last season, compared to 68 percent at cornerback. But the league -- and the video game -- still lists the Honey Badger as a safety, so that's where we'll put him. For someone who checks in at 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds, Mathieu sure likes to mix it up in the run game (5.71 solo tackles per game in 2015, third among DBs). He's severely underrated in the toughness category (85 rating), but "Madden NFL 17" rewarded Mathieu's five-interception season with high marks in both zone and man coverage (96 and 95, respectively).

Next-closest safety: Harrison Smith (94)