Saturday, April 28, 2012

Looking back on the 2011 NFL Draft 1st Round Ratings/Attributes (#27 - #32).

This is the 6th and final blog in my Madden 12 Rookie ratings review series (#27 - #32).  In case you missed the first blog covering picks 1 through 5, you can find it here:  I encourage you to read the first blog, as I won't be repeating the entire introduction.

    Picks 6 through 10 can be found here:
    Picks 11 through 15 can be found here:
    Picks 16 through 20 can be found here:
    Picks 21 through 26 can be found here:

    To give you a short introduction, I am comparing the original rookie ratings to the final rookie ratings in Madden 12.  I will be giving EA a grade on these ratings/attributes.  As the release the of Madden 13 approaches, I believe EA still has plenty of time to make improvements to how they rate player attributes.  There is no reason to stand still and be complacent.  All it takes is a open mind and a willingness to be the best despite the absence of competition.  

** Look past Overall (OVR) rating ***

Blue = increase in ratings/attributes
Red = decrease in ratings/attributes

M12 rating = Madden 12 Player Ratings

Original = First Madden 12 Rating.
Final = Final Madden 12 Rating.

#27 Jimmy Smith (CB), Baltimore Ravens

Jimmy Smith was the 3rd and final Cornerback taken in the first round of the 2011 draft.  He was viewed a being very talented, but some off the field issues caused him to slip.  EA gave him an elite MCV and PRS attribute from day 1.  Coming out of college he was considered to be very good in press/man coverage, but not as comfortable in zone coverage.  EA still gave him a very good ZCV attribute despite what the scouting reports said.  Smith was also viewed as not only willing to defend the run, good at it.

Here are Smith's 2011 stats (per

12 regular season games (3 starts), 20 tackles (all solo), 8 Pdefs, and 2 Ints.
2 playoff games (1 start), 3 tackles (1 solo), 1 Pdef, 1 Int.

Smith missed four regular season games due to injury (high ankle sprain).

According to, Smith only participated in 254 regular season snaps (118 CB's had more snaps).  Smith also saw 81 snaps during the playoffs.

PFF gave Smith a final regular season overall grade of 6.3 (which is very good, but again a very limited sample), a coverage grade of 3.4, and a grade of 2.0 against the run.  QB's had a 74.9 rating against Smith and completed 48.5% of their passes for 3 TD's.  He didn't miss a tackle during the regular season.

Here is how Smith stacks up against other Madden 12 CB's final attributes:

75 BSH (2nd highest) Also higher than all but 5 FS's and 13 SS's including Chancellor and Roman Harper.

92 MCV (T-7th highest)

86 ZCV (T-11th highest)

93 PRS (T-5th highest)

71 TAK (T-3rd highest)

70 POW (T-8th highest)

70 STR (2nd highest) His strength is also higher than, 44 ROLB, 50 MLB, 39 LOLB, 1 DT, 13 RE, 4 LE, 2 C.

Let' take a closer look at how strength (STR) is determined for Madden rookies.  Some think it's based on the combine bench press results.  Well, Smith was 2nd among CB's at the combine with 24 reps.  That might explain his 70 STR.  Not so fast, Marcus Gilchrist (Chargers) was #1 out of all CB's at the 2011 combine with 26 reps and he only received a 50 STR attribute.  Both Jalil Brown and Byron Maxwell did 24 reps (tied with Smith), but Brown only received a 63 STR and Maxwell received a 59.  Ok, so that doesn't explain how Smith got a 70 STR.

Let's look at a few rookies at a different position.  Aldon Smith did 20 reps at the same combine, and he is rated an 87 STR in Madden 12 (rightfully so, if you've seen him push OT's around like rag dolls).  DE Parnell McPhee (Ravens) did 20 reps as well, and received a 91 STR attribute.

So it's clear, combine bench press results don't define rookie STR attributes (nor should they be the sole factor).  Was Smith giving the benefit of the doubt because he was a 1st rounder and the other three CB's were not?  Hard to say.  Was there something in his game tape that supports such a high STR attribute?  I didn't see it.  On the flip side, was there something in the game tape of the other 3 CB's that supported a lower STR attribute.  I don't think so.  It should also be noted that STR does not effect the OVR rating of a CB in Madden 12.

I give EA a "D" for Smith's final Madden 12 attributes.  First, they didn't bother to lower his injury attribute from the 90 it started with.  I think missing 4 games is enough to support a decrease below 90 (elite).  Somewhere in the 85-86 range would seem more accurate.  I don't think he has earned an elite MCV attribute, especially with such a low number of snaps and his ZCV had no business starting at 84, let alone receiving a boost to 86.  This is EA giving a player a boost based on a few good plays (Int's in this case).  Should attributes really be increased or decreased based on a few plays?  There is no need to talk more about the STR attribute, that is clearly a mess.  BSH is also very questionable, just go look at the BSH attributes of DE's Freeney (67 BSH) and Peppers (68), both are lower than Smith.  Since Madden Football doesn't take size/weight (physics) into account, Smith can shed a block better than some elite pass rushers.  Are you kidding me?

#28 Mark Ingram (RB), New Orleans

Believe it or not, Ingram was the first running back taken in the 2011 draft.  Ingram missed 6 regular season games due to injury and he missed the playoffs.  He had some injury issues while in college as well.

Coming to the NFL he was considered a competitive RB with a nose for the endzone (46 TD's in college), but not necessarily good in short yardage.  He was viewed as having good strength and an aggressive running style, yet not someone who will push the pile.  Ingram was consider average in the passing game, but above average as a pass blocker.  

Most would consider his rookie season a disappointment.

Here are his 2011 regular season stats (per

10 games (4 starts), 122 ATT, 474 Yards, 3.9 YPC, 5 rushing TDs, 1 fum & 11 REC for 46 yards.

The first thing that jumps out to me is that Ingram only averaged 3.9 yards per carry.  The Saints as a team averaged 4.9 YPC.  Every RB on the Saints roster had a better average (excluding FB Jed Collins), hell even Drew Bress had a higher YPC with 4.1.  We can't just look at YPC, but I think the fact that Ingram averaged one full yard less than the team says a lot about his season.

The next thing that jumped out at me, was that Ingram only averaged 4.2 yards per reception, which was worst among Saints RB's (including FB Jed Collins who averaged 4.5 YPR).

On the positive side, he did tie (P. Thomas) for the team lead in rushing TD's with 5.

His rushing total of 474 yards was 5th among 2011 rookies and he averaged 47.4 yard per game.  If he had played 16 games at his current pace, he would have totaled 758 rushing yards (still less than fellow rookie DeMarco Murray's total of 897 in only 13 games.  In fact, had Ingram played in all 16 games, 758 yards would have only ranked 26th in the NFL.  As it stands now, his actual total of 474 rushing yards ranked 49th in the NFL.

Over the course of the season, Ingram's attributes remained the same.  If you consider his 2011 performance and his poor combine times (40 yard dash time of 4.62, 3 cone drill time of  7.13, and a 20 yd shuttle of 4.62 - which was worst among combine RB's), I don't think a 95 ACC can be justified. gave Ingram a final overall grade of 3.4 (40th out of 69 RB's with at least 219 regular season snaps).  PFF gave him an elusiveness rating of 21.7 which ranked 46th out of 56 RB's with at least 87 attempts.  On the bright side, Ingram had zero drops on 11 "catchable" targets.

I give EA a "D" for Ingram's final attribute ratings.  His ACC, AGI, and BCV are all a joke and have no business being in the "elite" 90+ range.  He should be well below 90 in all three of those attributes.  EA's lack of research and reliance on perception resulted in overrated attributes for Mark Ingram.

#29 Gabe Carimi (OT), Chicago Bears

** Please note - Carimi was switched from LT to RT which caused his OVR to increase, despite having decreases in other attributes.  This is another example of the horrible OVR formula.  While RT's are typically not considered as good as LT's, there is no excuse for this type of OVR rating system. 

Carimi came into the 2011 draft viewed as a very good offensive tackle.  The word "beast" was used to describe him several times, as well as the phrase "non-stop motor".  He was thought to be a better run blocker than pass blocker, and there were some concerns with his footwork.  Carimi was also considered to be somewhat injury prone due to knee injuries in 2008 and 2010.    

Carimi played and started in the first two games of the 2011 NFL season for the Bears (at RT), but he had yet another knee injury that cost him the rest of his rookie season.  According to, he participated in only 100 snaps, gave up two QB pressures and 1 sack.  His overall grade from PFF was -0.3.  That is not a big enough sample size to properly grade Carimi's rookie season.

I am basically grading EA's original rookie ratings since Carimi didn't log many snaps as a rookie.  I give EA a "B+" for Carimi's final rookie rating/attributes.  Donny clearly did his homework on this one, but the broken OVR formula prevents me from giving him an A (the 6 point OVR increase is unacceptable).  OVR needs to be a stand alone ranking with no connection to attributes until they fix the formulas.  I've said it 1000 times.

Last night (4/28/12), Donny replied to one of my tweets.  Here is the interaction:

If you have followed me for any period of time, you know I have given them several specifics.  This is my 27th blog and in several of them I have discussed the broken OVR formula and the need to either fix it or make it a stand alone ranking.  Obviously, those blogs have fallen of deaf ears.  I than tweeted him some examples with no further response from him.  The point is, it's clear that Donny doesn't see the problem, or he doesn't fully understand the differences in positions and schemes throughout the NFL.

While, I appreciate the interaction, I would rather see acknowledgement that there is a problem with the OVR formula and that they are trying to find ways to improve it.  This is a classic case and not being able to admit there is a problem.  Madden 13 player ratings and attributes will not get any better if the #1 ratings person (Donny Moore) doesn't see a problem.  I was sad to see his response, but it has motivated me even more.  Hopefully, one of my blogs will make sense to Donny and he will realize that improvements can and should be made to the OVR formula.

Please keep an open mind Donny.  If I need to do more research so that you can fully understand the problem, please let me know.

#30 Muhammad Wilkerson (DE), New York Jets

Simply put, the Jets hit a home run with Wilkerson in the 2011 draft.  Unfortunately, the OVR formula for Madden 12 player ratings doesn't recognize the deference between a 4-3 DE and 3-4 DE.  The Jet's run a  3-4 defense, with means Wilkerson's primary role is to fill gaps and defend the run.

2011 Final Regular Season Stats:  16 gms (16 starts), 49 tak (35 solo), 3.0 sacks, 1 safety, 2 Pdef.

Coming out of college, Wilkerson was viewed as both a run stopper and pass rusher.  In the Jets defense, he thrived at defending the run, but struggled at rushing the passer.

ProFootballFocus gave Wilkerson a final overall grade of 4.7 (7.9 for run defense and -1.8 for pass rush).  One of the great things about PFF, is they rank 3-4 DE's against each other, not against 4-3 DEs.  I wish EA would do the same, as well as ranking 3-4 OLB's against other 3-4 OLB's, not against 4-3 OLB's.  PFF ranked Wilkerson 17th overall among 32 DE's (3-4 scheme) who had at least 287 snaps (he had 606 snaps).  He ranked 7th against the run and 18th against the pass (out of the same 32 DE's).

The one area were Wilkerson struggled the most, was the act of tackling.  He missed more tackles than any other 3-4 defensive end with 8 (missing a tackle every 6 attempts), yet EA gave him an increase in his TAK attribute.  Just how bad was Wilkerson at tackling?  PFF collected tackle statistics for all 63 DE's (3-4) who played at least one snap; the average 3-4 DE missed a tackle every 16 attempts compared to Wilkerson who missed a tackle every 6 attempts.  That is horrible.  This isn't an isolated case of EA producing an inaccurate TAK attribute; TAK is one of the most inaccurate and inconsistent attributes in the entire game.  If the TAK attribute determines the players ability to tackle in Madden 12, than missed tackles has to be a factor in determining the attribute.  Without considering missed tackles, the TAK attribute rating is no more than a guess, based only on tackles made.  TAK is also frequently used to manipulate OVR, with a complete disregard for the players actual ability to tackle.  Attribute accuracy should matter, especially if you are trying to simulate reality.  (*** So that is one more example for Donny, of course I have told him this several times).

I give EA a "C+" for Wilkerson's final attribute ratings.  In no way should he have received an increase in TAK.  His PMV should also be decreased a few more points.  Since the OVR formula doesn't give 3-4 DE's the credit they deserve when it comes to run defense, AWR (a 16 pt increase) was the only way for EA to satisfy the fans who expected an OVR increase.  Wilkerson had a great rookie year, with the exception of missing tackles.  Since his primary objective in the Jets defense is to defend the run and fill gaps, the lack of pass rush isn't as disappointing.    

#31 Cameron Heyward (DE), Pittsburgh Steelers

Like Wilkerson, Heyward was drafted to play DE in a 3-4 defense.  You can see the he received no increases or decreases throughout the season. Heyward only played 197 snaps during the regular season and added 49 snaps in the post season.

Coming into the draft, Heyward was considered an average pass rusher and above average at defending the run.  After being considered a top 15 pick, he slid to the bottom of the first round.  The general thought was that he could play DE or DT in a 4-3 defense and was more of a DE in a 3-4 defense.

Final 2011 Regular Season Stats:  16 games (0 starts), 11 tackles (10 solo), 1 sack, 1 pdef.  
                        2011 Playoff Stats:  1 game, 4 tackles (3 solo).

Jets fans probably expected more from Heyward during his rookie season, but he was stuck behind starters Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood.  Keisel was limited in the playoff game due to injury, which resulted in more snaps for Heyward.

Get this, Ziggy Hood received the worst overall grade from PFF for a 3-4 DE with -20.5 (the next closest was -13.3).  My question is why wasn't Heyward able to unseat Hood in the starting lineup?  That might say something about his development.  Although, historically the Steelers have stuck with veterans on defense leaving the younger players fewer opportunities to take the field.

In limited time during the season, PFF gave Heyward a 0.9 overall grade (2.1 versus the run and -2.4 at rushing the passer).  This is another case of having a very small sample to evaluate a player's rookie season.  The fact that he couldn't get on the field doesn't necessarily mean he won't develop into a good player.  

So once again, I am basically grading the original rating/attributes.  Based on my research I agree with most of the original attributes, with the exception of the 93 BSH.  That is an elite BSH for a player that has not earned it on an NFL field.  Certain attributes like SPD, AGI, and ACC transfer over from the college game to the pro game, but BSH is not one of those attributes.  NFL offensive lineman are on a different level than college lineman and I believe a 90+ BSH needs to be earned in the NFL.  A mid 80's BSH rating would make more since at this point.  EA needs to leave rookies room to prove themselves.

I give EA a "B+" for Heyward's initial and final attribute ratings (disregarding OVR due to formula).

#32 Derek Sherrod (OT), Green Bay Packers

** Please note - Sherrod is another tackle who was switched from LT to RT in Madden 12 and received an OVR increase despite decreases in other attributes.  

The Packers selected Derek Sherrod as the last pick in the 1st round.  He only played in 5 games during the season and he was unable to crack the starting lineup.  In December, Sherrod broke his leg which ended his season.

Sherrod was not considered a powerful Tackle coming into the draft, although he was viewed as having good footwork. viewed him as a backup that could possibly become a starter and considered him a day 3 prospect. (Scouts Inc.) thought more of him than and ranked him 5th among offensive tackles going into the draft.  Both sources thought he had good awareness when it comes to run blocking,  but that he needed to improve awareness in pass blocking.

According to PFF, Sherrod only participated in 115 snaps and recieved an overall grade of -5.1 (-2.5 pass block and -1.2 run block).  He gave up 6 QB pressures, 1 sack, and was called for 2 penalties in his limited action.  Again, this is a very small sample.  Although, it does appear that he struggled when givien the opportunity to play.

I give EA a "C+" for Sherrod's final attribute ratings.  My biggest problem is the AWR decrease of -9, which was obviously just to bring down OVR since he changed positions.  The broken OVR strikes again in this case, it forced EA to drop his AWR even though he was viewed as having average to above average awareness (very good in the run game and needed work in pass game).

After evaluating all 32 first round picks, here is the breakdown of how I graded EA (Donny Moore):

Letter grade = # of times given

A   = 2
A-  = 2
B+ = 4
B   = 2
B-  = 2
C+ = 4
C   = 5
C-  = 1
D+ = 1
D   = 6
D-  = 3

Total GPA = 2.2 for a "C"

So for the entire first round, I give EA and Donny Moore a "C" for their final Madden 12 rookie ratings/attributes.  Remember, this is after an entire season.  I am not grading them on the initial attributes (in most cases).  The beauty of the in season roster updates, is the ability to correct attributes and provide a more accurate representation of the player's actual ability.  Honestly, going in I thought it would be much worse, so I am happy to give them an average grade.  That said, there is plenty of room for improvement going into Madden 13.

For Madden 13 player ratings to be more accurate and consistent, EA needs to have an open mind.  There are several problems, but the biggest issue is the OVR formula and how it impacts the decision making of the player rater (in this case, Donny Moore).  They are too concerned with OVR and the formula is not good enough to allow accurate attributes.  EA and Donny Moore have trained fans to only look at OVR, this is their way of taking your attention off of the inaccurate and inconsistent attributes.  I urge all of your to look deeper than OVR and look at player attributes.  If fans show EA and Donny Moore that attribute accuracy is important to them, they will have no choice but to address the OVR formula in the future.  By the looks of the Madden Ultimate Team rookie cards (just released for 2012 first rounders), there is no change in the formula at this point.  I think it's safe to assume that Madden 13 will have the same broken formula.  My goal this year, will be to raise fan (and EA) awareness when it comes to the broken OVR formula, resulting in a fixed formula going into Madden 14.  Come on Donny, I know you are listening.

You can follow me on twitter @mannmicj 

Thanks for following my blogs, have a great week.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Looking back on the 2011 NFL Draft 1st Round Ratings/Attributes (#21 - #26).

This is the 5th blog in my Madden 12 Rookie ratings review series (#21 - #26).  In case you missed the first blog covering picks 1 through 5, you can find it here:  I encourage you to read the first blog, as I won't be repeating the entire introduction.

    Picks 6 through 10 can be found here:
    Picks 11 through 15 can be found here:
    Picks 16 through 20 can be found here:

    To give you a short introduction, I am comparing the original rookie ratings to the final rookie ratings in Madden 12.  I will be giving EA a grade on these ratings/attributes.  As the release the of Madden 13 approaches, I believe EA still has plenty of time to make improvements to how they rate player attributes.  There is no reason to stand still and be complacent.  All it takes is a open mind and a willingness to be the best despite the absence of competition.  

** Look past Overall (OVR) rating ***

Blue = increase in ratings/attributes
Red = decrease in ratings/attributes

M12 rating = Madden 12 Player Ratings

Original = First Madden 12 Rating.
Final = Final Madden 12 Rating.

#21 Phillip Taylor (DT), Cleveland Browns

Phillip Taylor played in and started all 16 games for the Browns this season in their new 4-3 system.  Listed at 6'3", 335 lbs, he is a very big man.  To cap off the year, Taylor was selected to the Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie Team (not to be confused with Pro Football Focus).

Taylor's Final 2011 regular season statistics:  59 tackles (37 solo), 4.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 Pdef.  His 59 tackles ranked 11th among rookies and ranked 3rd in the NFL at the Defensive Tackle position (Note:  Haloti Ngata is listed as a DE per    

Now with the bad. saw a completely different Taylor; and as a matter of fact, his 2011 grades where horrible.  

PFF Overall grade   = -7.4  (ranked 77 out of 88 DT/NT's)
PFF Pass Rush grade = -2.9 (ranked 49 out of 88)
PFF Run Def grade = -2.9 (ranked 76 out of 88)
PFF Penalty grade = -2.1 (ranked 73 out of 88)
PFF missed tackles = 2
PFF stop %= 5.3 (ranked 34 out of 43 DT/NT's who had at least 50% of teams run defense snaps).
PFF pass rush productivity (PRP) = 3.9 (ranked 38th out of 73 DT/NT's who had at least 2% of team pass defense snaps).

So what does all of this mean?  If you are confused, I don't blame you.  Let's look at what we do know.  Remember, On December 11th, 2011 Donny Moore tweeted

"Have I ever mentioned to you guys who I trust THE most in the world of NFL player and team analysis...."

On December 6th, 2011 he tweeted,

"If you are interested in the most accurate and detailed NFL analysis out there, look no further than . Nobody is better."

I don't think Donny could be any more clear when it comes to PFF.  Unfortunately, the increases Taylor received during the season is the exact opposite of the PFF analysis.  If Donny no longer feels this way about PFF, then he should just come out and say it.  Otherwise, what are Madden fans suppose to think?  This is not the first time the ratings "team" has completely ignored PFF's analysis and it just adds to the frustration gamers have when it comes to the inconsistency in Madden ratings/attributes.  One of my top recommendations for Madden 13 is to install a universal set of procedures for rating player attributes and make those procedures available to all Madden fans.  I don't know about you, but I can't think of anyway to obtain consistency without having guidelines for every attribute that can be objectively applied to all players.  All of the responsibility can't just fall of Donny Moore, he needs a TEAM.     

I give EA an "D-" for Taylor's final attribute ratings. The worst attribute is the elite 95 BSH, which is the 3rd highest BSH attribute out of all Madden 12 DT's.  Even the one decrease Taylor received is inaccurate.  He only missed 2 tackles all season, yet was decreased in the TAK attribute.  Over and over again, the TAK attribute for DT's is flat out inaccurate.  The only attribute change I agree with is the increase in stamina (STA).  He ranked 16th among all DT's in snaps during 2011 with 742 (per PFF).  

One view of Taylor is that his rookie season was a big success, another view is that he was one of the worst starting DT's in the NFL.  If you split the difference, he should not have received any increases or decreases.  What in the hell is going on when it comes to Madden ratings/attributes?
#22 Anthony Castonzo (LT), Indianapolis Colts

Here we have the third Offensive Tackle taken in this draft.  Castonzo played in and started 12 games in 2011.  He missed 4 games due to an ankle injury he suffered in week 4.  The general consensus about Castonzo going into the draft was that he was more of a "finesse" blocker (much of that due to his lack of strength).  He was considered to have good footwork, high awareness, and good speed for an offensive tackle.  Draft experts thought he would struggle in pass blocking against stronger bull-rush DE ends; but that overall, he was above average in pass blocking.  It was also noted that his run blocking relies more on quickness than strength.  Most experts thought he would develop into a good starting left tackle and that he was well suited for a zone blocking scheme.

I really like the original attributes that Donny gave Castonzo.  He was aware of his lack of strength, but also acknowledged his great footwork.  This is a great example of what Donny is capable of.  It's obvious to me that he not only did the research, but applied it correctly. gave Castonzo a grade of -7.0, which ranked 40th out of 76 offensive tackles who participated in at least 25% of their teams offensive snaps.  His pass blocking earned him a grade of -0.8 (33 out of 76) and his run blocking was -4.6 (50 out of 76).  PFF gave him a penalty grade of -1.6 (50 out of 76).  Castonzo received a Pass Blocking Efficiency score of 94.7 (PFF signature stat), which ranked 30 out of 76 offensive tackles.  He gave up 6 sacks, 5 QB hits, and 16 hurries during the season per PFF.    

Based on the PFF analysis, Castonzo was slightly above average in pass blocking and well below average in run blocking (when compared to other tackles).  The draft experts were right on the money when it came to Castonzo.  Although, I am sure it didn't help him that Manning wasn't his starting QB in 2011.    

In this case, Donny seemed to follow the PFF analysis.  You could question his 5 point increase in awareness, but the only problem I have with his final attributes, is that his INJ didn't go down.  The INJ attribute is very inconsistent in Madden 12 and the 98 rating (2nd highest in M12) Castonzo maintained after missing fours games is an example of that.

I give EA an "A-" for the final attribute ratings of Anthony Castonzo.  

#23 Danny Watkins (RG), Philadelphia Eagles

Danny Watkins was the first Offensive Guard taken in this draft and some considered him to be a reach in the first round.  He is already 27 years old and grew up playing hockey and rugby.  He didn't start playing football until college, where he played left tackle.  Experts projected him as a guard due to his lack of arm length and because they believe he lacks the initial quickness in his first step to play tackle in the NFL.  Watkins was considered to have average to slightly above average awareness even though he is still fairly new to football.

The original M12 attributes for Watkins are OK, but I disagree with him having such high RBF and PBF.  Several sources (, ESPN, and Scouts Inc.) suggested that his footwork was not great and definitely lacked when it came to pass blocking.  His footwork was one of the main reasons for moving him to guard in the NFL.

Watkins was inserted into the starting lineup at right guard in week 5 and started the final 12 games of the 2011 season.      

What if I told you that per ProFootballFocus, Watkins didn't give up a sack in his 12 games?  You might think that his PBS and PBF should be elite.  On the other hand, what if I told you that he gave up a total of 23 QB pressures in those 12 games, which was the 11th highest total out of 77 guards who played in at least 25% of their teams offensive snaps?  You might think his PBS and PBF should be below average.  The point is that the sacks allowed statistic doesn't tell the entire story.  That is why I believe the pass blocking analysis that provides is the best available data.  

PFF gave Watkins an overall grade of -8.4, which was 49th out of 77 guards.  He received a pass block grade of -2.7 (52 out of 77) and a run block grade of -4.9 (44 out of 77).  Watkins was also flagged 5 times in 12 games.  His pass blocking efficiency rating (PFF signature stat) was 95.9, which ranked 57th for guards.

One source I found referred to Watkins' rookie performance as "serviceable."  I believe that to be a fair description.  If you were just rating his Madden attributes based on the PFF analysis, both his PBF and PBS would be in the 70's, not the 80s.  

I give EA a "C" for Watkins' final Madden 12 attribute ratings. 

#24 Cameron Jordan (DE), New Orleans Saints

When the Saints took Cameron Jordan with the 24th overall selection, they expected him to give them a much needed boost with their pass rush.  That said, I don't think the Saints did enough research.  He was viewed by many to be more of a run stopper than a pass rusher.  For example, Scouts Inc. gave him an exceptional grade versus the run and only an average grade for pass rush skills.   The draft analysis stated "Not a big-time pass rushing talent by any means, but still has some good power moves."

It's not Jordan's fault that the Saints (fan) expectations were unrealistic for him as a pass rusher.  He finished  his rookie year with just 31 tackles (18 solo), 1 sack, 0 forced fumbles, and 4 Pdefs, despite playing in all 16 regular season games and starting 15 of them.  In two playoff games (starting in one), he added 7 tackles (6 solo) and 1 Pdef.  

There may be some hope for Jordan when it comes to rushing the passer.  New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is known for developing defensive lineman, look no further than his work in New York and St. Louis.  I am very curious to see what he does with Jordan in the upcoming season.

Let's look at how Jordan compared to other 4-3 DE's according to ProFootballFocus.

PFF Overall grade        = +4.4 (35th out of 67)
PFF Pass rush grade     =  -4.4 (50th out of 67)
PFF Run defense grade = +12.1 (8th out of 67)
PFF missed tackles       = 1 (0 missed versus the run)

So once again, it appears the draft experts hit the nail on the head with Jordan.  He was outstanding versus the run, but struggled to put pressure on the QB.  

I give EA a "C+" for Cameron Jordan's final attribute ratings.  I think his TAK attribute should be a bit higher, as well as his BSH (block shed).  A TAK around 85 and a BSH in the low 80's would be fitting for the run stopper that he is.  At the same time, his PMV should not be in the 80's, something closer to 75 would make more sense.

#25 James Carpenter (RT), Seattle Seahawks

***  Full Disclosure - I am a life long Seahawk fan (over 30 years).  ***

For the second year in a row, Seattle addressed it's biggest weakness with their first pick.  As a fan, this was not an exciting pick, but knowing how bad the offensive line has been over the last couple of years, it made sense.  I don't remember any draft experts who didn't consider Carpenter a reach in the first round.  He was viewed as a good run blocker with the kind of mean streak that offensive line coach Tom Cable covets.  Many experts viewed Carpenter as more of a guard prospect than a tackle.  It was clear as the season progressed, that Carpenter was not suited to play Right Tackle in the NFL.  He is strong, but doesn't have the footwork required for an offensive tackle.

Prior to the draft, Seattle brought in free agent LG Robert Gallery to help solidify the O-line and help implement Cable's zone blocking scheme.   In the 3rd round, Seattle drafted John Moffitt who was expected to compete for the starting job at right guard.  That left Carpenter playing right tackle.  Ironically, Carpenter's first start came at LG due to an injury to Robert Gallery.  The next 8 games would see Carpenter starting at right tackle until he tore his ACL and was put on the injured reserved list. gave Carpenter an overall grade at OT of -21.4 (63rd out of 76), pass blocking grade of -12.2 (63rd out of 76), run block grade of -4.4 (48th out of 76), and penalty grade of -4.8 (71st out of 76, 8 penalties).  He gave up 5 sacks and 21 total QB pressures in just 8 games for a PBE of 91.6 (71 out of 76).  Those numbers are horrible and they clearly represent Carpenter's performance at Right Tackle.  I watched every Seahawk game and he was that bad, especially in pass protection.

Seattle recently released Robert Gallery, which opens up the LG position.  If Carpenter recovers well from his ACL injury, I think he will compete for and win the LG job.  John Moffit had a season ending injury as well, so both guard positions could be available.  

I give EA a "B+" for Carpenter's final attribute ratings.  Donny Moore did very well initially and throughout the season.    I don't consider Carpenter a bust, because I believe he will be a successful guard for years to come.  His INJ attribute needs to come down (low 80's) and his IMP (Impact block) should go up to the mid 70's. 

#26 Jonathan Baldwin (WR), Kansas City Chiefs

Baldwin was the 3rd and final WR taken in the first round.  At 6'4" and 228lbs, he offers QB's a huge target and could be a legit threat in the redzone.  Think fade route in the back of the endzone.

I really like the original attributes for Baldwin, they match up well with every scouting report I could find prior to this draft.  Even his SPC attribute is on par with everything I could read or watch.  

Here are some video highlights of Baldwin from college:

For determining the Spectacular Catch (SPC) attribute, videos like these are essential.  SPC is one of the most subjective (bias) attributes in Madden, but game tapes can help support the assigned rating.  I think Madden could live without the SPC attribute because it's completely dependent on highlight reel catches.  I have a very hard time with attributes that are based on highlights only, especially when there is only one person deciding what is or isn't a spectacular catch (a real ratings team would reduce bias).  As of now, we have to deal with it and find the best way to rate it.  Rating SPC will never be perfect (see:  Brandon Lloyd, 99 SPC), but it can be improved by compiling the best available data (game tape).

 Side Note:

In Madden 12, SPC was an extremely important attribute and it determined how easily the SPC animation was triggered (rocket catch).  Many competitive gamers would rather have a receiver with a high SPC than a high CAT.  I really hope this is fixed in Madden 13.  CAT should be the most important attribute when it comes to receiving and it should be reflected in gameplay.  Right now, the SPC animation seems to trump the CAT attribute--they should work hand in hand.  Otherwise, I can move the ball at will just by triggering the SPC animation.  It's not realistic in anyway, shape, or form.    

Back to Baldwin.  The biggest knock on Baldwin coming into the draft was his character.  He had some run ins with the law while in college and he carried his poor character into the NFL preseason.  Baldwin got into a fight with veteran RB Thomas Jones during the preseason and hurt his wrist.  His actions (injury) cost him the first five games of the regular season.

Here are Baldwin's 2011 regular season stats:  11 games (3 starts), 21 Rec, 254 yards, 12.1 avg, 1 TD.

Per ProFootballFocus, Baldwin dropped 6 catches during the season on 27 "catchable" targets.  That resulted in a drop percentage of 22.22% (dead last out of 95 WR's who had at least 44 targets).  In other words, Baldwin had some of the worst hands in the entire NFL as a rookie.

He earned a final overall grade of -6.6 from PFF (96th out of 115 WR's).  His grade for receiving only was -4.3 (89th out of 115).  Baldwin also received negative grades in blocking and penalties.  According to PFF, Kansas City quarterbacks had a 47.3 QB rating when targeting Baldwin (93rd out of 95 WR's).  The very traits that got Baldwin drafted in the first round, eluded him during the season - like attacking the ball in the air and fighting for position.

Donny shows what he is capable of with Baldwin's original attributes.  Great job Donny.  Yes, one could argue that his CIT should be a little higher based on those video highlights.  Just remember, those are highlights, we don't see all of the drops he had in traffic.

Donny also showed his inconsistent and inaccurate side by giving Baldwin increases during the season.    How on earth does that rookie season deserve any increases?  Remember, the great thing about in-season roster updates is the ability to correct mistakes and/or improve the accuracy of player attributes.  The ratings "team" failed when it comes to Baldwin's final attribute ratings.  He did not consistently exceed his original attribute ratings and I would argue he was worse.  His CAT should be in the mid 70's at best.  AWR, RTE, and RLS should not have been increased.  I do agree with the STA and INJ decreases, although this just shows how inconsistent the INJ attribute is.  Both Carpenter (7 games) and Castanzo (4 games) missed significant time and neither received a decrease to their INJ attribute.  Come on, is it really that difficult to get accurate and consistent INJ attributes?  I don't think so. You either miss games or you don't.

Here is an injury (INJ) attribute blog I did earlier in the season:

I give EA a "D-" for Baldwin's final attribute ratings.


Thanks for following this blog series, I will have the final installment completed by next Sunday.  Have a great week.