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Video Game Week: Predicting top Buckeyes and rookie ratings in Madden 21

What overall ratings will EA give to former Ohio State players in the newest edition of the Madden franchise

Detroit Lions CB Jeff Okudah in Madden 20

Football season is (hopefully) right around the corner, and with that comes the annual release of the Madden NFL video game franchise. As Tia detailed on Tuesday, Madden 21 was just recently announced — slated to hit shelves on Aug. 28 — and the first trailer for the newest title in the long-running series featured one of Ohio State’s latest top-tier NFL products in defensive end Chase Young.

With the Madden 21 announcement and SB Nation’s Video Game Week falling perfectly within the same week, it seems like a great time to try and predict the ratings of some of the top Buckeyes that will appear in the game, as well as where some of Ohio State’s rookies will stand. Let’s start with the guys who will have the highest ratings come late August.

Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints, WR)
Madden 20 Rating: 99 OVR
Madden 21 Projected Rating: 99 OVR

Michael Thomas had the highest overall rating of any former Ohio State player in last year’s edition of Madden, and there's no reason to thing that’s going to change in Madden 21. Leading the league in receptions in each of the last two seasons, Thomas led all wideouts in receiving yards in 2019 and was named the NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year. His Twitter handle is @Cantguardmike for a reason, as the former Buckeye receiver should absolutely maintain his 99 overall rating as one of if not the top player at his position.

Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys, RB)
Madden 20 Rating: 93
Madden 21 Projected Rating: 94

It’s tough to find consistency at the running back position in the NFL for any long stretch of time, but that is exactly what Elliott has provided to the Cowboys in his first four years in the league. Despite finishing with around 100 yards less in 2019 than he ran for in 2018, Zeke also doubled his touchdown numbers from six to 12 this past season. The second-highest overall RB in the current game, behind only Christian McCaffrey, EA could reward Elliott’s sustained success with a one-point bump to his rating in Madden 21.

Joey Bosa (Los Angeles Chargers, DE)
Madden 20 Rating: 91
Madden 21 Projected Rating: 91

The elder Bosa brother has had zero issues transitioning from college to the pros, but has had a bit of an issue staying healthy. However, after playing in only seven games in 2018, Bosa was able to put together a full season in 2019 — one in which he racked up 11.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He’s clearly one of the top defensive ends in the game already, and was the fourth-highest rated left end in Madden 20. If he can put together another healthy productive season in 2020, look for his Madden rating to increase as the year progresses.

Nick Bosa (San Francisco 49ers, DE)
Madden 20 Rating: 89
Madden 21 Projected Rating: 91

In his very first season in the league, Nick Bosa turned some heads. A highly-touted prospect out of Ohio State — coming in as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft — the younger Bosa was even better than advertised. Starting 14 games for the 49ers, the edge rusher compiled nine sacks, 16 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception, which altogether was good enough to win the 2019 NFL AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. There’s no reason to think he won't continue to get even better as he heads into year two, and his new Madden rating will reflect that.

There are a ton of former Ohio State players currently active in the NFL, and so it would take forever to go through each one individually. Some other notable high-overall Buckeyes in the current edition of Madden include Malcolm Jenkins (86), Marshon Lattimore (85), Denzel Ward (85), Andrew Norwell (83), Malik Hooker (82) and Terry McLaurin (81).

Now, let’s try to predict how some of the latest Ohio State rookies will be rated in their first appearance in the Madden franchise...

Chase Young (Washington Redskins, DE)
Madden 20 Rating: N/A
Madden 21 Projected Rating: 82

You really have to earn your spot in the NFL before you can get into the upper echelon of the Madden ratings, and as a result rookies generally aren't rated all that high. With that being said, a guy like Chase Young is looked at as a generational talent, and should in all likelihood be the highest-rated player of any rookie in Madden 21. Last year’s top rookie was also a defensive end, as Quinnen Williams started the year with an 80 overall. Williams is a great football player, but Young is a different animal. An 82 seems more than fair for his introduction to the league.

Jeff Okudah (Detroit Lions, CB)
Madden 20 Rating: N/A
Madden 21 Projected Rating: 78

The latest product of DBU, Jeff Okudah looked ready for the NFL pretty much since day one. Playing corner at the highest level is incredibly hard, and there are only a handful of guys in the league that are truly elite talents at the position. As a result, only five CBs are ranked a 90 overall or higher in the current edition of Madden. At 78 overall, Okudah would still be one of the highest rated rookies in the class, and he could definitely see that rating rise as the year goes on if his transition to the NFL is anywhere near as smooth as his play on the field.

Damon Arnette (Las Vegas Raiders, CB)
Madden 20 Rating: N/A
Madden 21 Projected Rating: 71

The second Ohio State corner to be drafted in the first round, Arnette made a fantastic choice to return to school for his senior year, where he undoubtably played his best football in a Buckeye uniform. Arnette is a bit of a wildcard at the next level. The DB was incredibly inconsistent his first few years in Columbus, but was an important and reliable piece of the team’s 2019 defense — while playing through a broken hand. I could see him being rated somewhere between a 70 and a 72 overall, so I'll split the difference at 71.

J.K. Dobbins (Baltimore Ravens, RB)
Madden 20 Rating: N/A
Madden 21 Projected Rating: 70

There aren’t many 70-plus overall rated rookies once you get out of the first round, but Dobbins is simply too talented to fall into the 60s. He wound up in a system that should suit him very well in Baltimore, and although he will technically be behind Mark Ingram in the depth chart, there will be plenty of opportunity for Dobbins in year one in a run-heavy offense. The RB does a lot of things well, and should start out somewhere around a 70 overall, or at worst just a tick or two lower.