Madden 19 Ratings: Best rookie middle linebackers (MLB)

Who are the best rookie middle linebackers (MLBs) in Madden 19?


Middle linebackers, more often than not, are the signal callers of the defense. They are responsible for making sure everyone is on the same page and where they are meant to be on the field. They are also, invariably, the leading tackler on the team and a crucial piece of both the run defense and pass coverage. As a result, it’s very difficult for rookies to make big impacts at middle linebacker unless they are freakishly gifted like Luke Kuechly or Bobby Wagner.

How to choose the best rookie middle linebackers in Madden 19’s Franchise Mode

A good middle linebacker (MLB) needs to be fast, smart, and tough. Speed and tackling are the main stats to look for as well as acceleration and hit power. Then there is play recognition and awareness to make sure they understand what they are seeing, and it also requires man and zone coverage skills too. Here are all the best rookie middle linebackers in Madden 19.

Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears (OVR 82)

Age: 21

Development Trait: Superstar

Contract: 4 years/$18.4m

2018 Cap Hit: $4.46m

Best Stats: Speed (89), Acceleration (91), Tackle (88), Hit Power (87), Play Recognition (71), Zone Coverage (81)

The Chicago Bears made Roquan Smith the eighth-overall pick this year. Smith played three years at Georgia and was a dominant force for the Bulldogs, making 252 tackles, 20.5 of which were for a loss, and also picked up 6.5 sacks. At the combine Smith ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds and at his pro day hit a 33.5 inch vertical.

Roquan Smith is a monster in the making in Madden 19. With superstar development and electric speed (89), Smith is the fastest middle linebacker in the game and already has terrific tackle (88) and zone coverage (81) stats. His play recognition (71) isn’t great, but that will quickly improve, and if you control him, then it doesn’t really matter. 

Rashaan Evans, Tennessee Titans (OVR 76)

Age: 21

Development Trait: Quick

Contract: 4 years/$11.6m

2018 Cap Hit: $2.78m

Best Stats: Speed (83), Acceleration (87), Tackle (83), Hit Power (90), Play Recognition (65), Zone Coverage (68)

Evans was the 22nd overall pick by the Tennessee Titans this year after spending four productive years at Alabama. He racked up 150 tackles for the Crimson Tide, including 23.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks. At the combine Evans didn’t run the 40-yard dash, but he completed the short shuttle in 4.36 seconds and hit a 30 inch vertical jump.

Evans is not the athlete that Roquan Smith is, but he’s a good middle linebacker in his own right on Madden 19. With nice speed (83), good acceleration (87) and superb hit power (90), Evans will make an impact for your defense. He doesn’t have the coverage skills (68 zone) or the play recognition (65) to let the computer control him too often though.

Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills (OVR 75)

Age: 20

Development Trait: Quick

Contract: 4 years/$12.7m

2018 Cap Hit: $3.05m

Best Stats: Speed (87), Acceleration (87), Tackle (85), Hit Power (84), Play Recognition (61), Zone Coverage (67)

Drafted 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills, Tremaine Edmunds enters the NFL at just 20 years old after three successful years at Virginia Tech. Edmunds finished his college career with 213 tackles, a massive 33 of which were for a loss, and had 10 sacks. He also picked off a pass and forced three fumbles. At the combine Edmunds ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds and managed a 9’9″ on the broad jump.

Edmunds is very fast for an MLB on Madden 19 with his strong speed (87) and acceleration (87) stats. He’s a good tackler (85), even if it doesn’t come with great power (84). Where he is weak is in coverage (67 zone) and play recognition (61). However his athleticism makes him perfect for a user linebacker.

Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys (OVR 74)

Age: 21

Development Trait: Quick

Contract: 4 years/$11.8m

2018 Cap Hit: $2.85m

Best Stats: Speed (84), Acceleration (91), Tackle (85), Hit Power (81), Play Recognition (63), Zone Coverage (71)

Leighton Vander Esch was a first-round pick, #19 overall, of the Dallas Cowboys this year. Vander Esch played his college ball at Boise State, where he finished a three year career with 188 tackles, five sacks, and 13 tackles for loss. He also had three interceptions and four forced fumbles. In his pre-draft workouts Vander Esch ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, hit a 39.5 inch vertical, and ran the short shuttle in 4.15 seconds.

Vander Esch has terrific burst in Madden 19 with that remarkable 91 acceleration. He doesn’t have a tremendous top speed (84) but it’s far from a negative. He tackles well (85) even though it’s with little power (81) and he isn’t terrible in zone coverage (71).

Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers (OVR 71)

Age: 21

Development Trait: Normal

Contract: 4 years/$3.95m

2018 Cap Hit: $920k

Best Stats: Speed (84), Acceleration (89), Tackle (80), Hit Power (80), Play Recognition (62), Zone Coverage (75)

Fred Warner was a third-round pick, #70 overall, by the San Francisco 49ers this year. He played four years at Brigham Young University (BYU) where he racked up 262 tackles, had 6.5 sacks, and made 32.5 tackles for loss. He also picked off seven passes, taking two back for touchdowns, and forced five fumbles. At the combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds, had a 38.5 inch vertical jump, and ran the short shuttle in 4.28 seconds.

Warner has good athleticism in Madden 19, with nice speed (84) and good acceleration (89). He isn’t much of a hitter though, with tackling and hit power of just 80. With 75 zone coverage, 91 jumping, and 71 catching he’s a good coverage linebacker option though.

Kenny Young, Baltimore Ravens (OVR 70)

Age: 23

Development Trait: Normal

Contract: 4 years/$3.02m

2018 Cap Hit: $700k

Best Stats: Speed (84), Acceleration (88), Tackle (84), Hit Power (77), Play Recognition (58), Zone Coverage (76)

Kenny Young was a fourth-round pick, #122 overall, for the Baltimore Ravens. He played four years at UCLA, finishing his college career with 304 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 22 tackles for loss. He also had two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a touchdown for the Bruins.

In Madden 19 Young is not much of a hitter. With tackling of 84 and hit power of just 77 there’s a worry he’ll be bullied by bigger running backs in the middle of the field. He’s a good athlete for the position and with strong zone coverage (76) he should play well in space. The biggest problem is his play recognition of just 58. This is someone you will have to control until you can improve that stat.

Oren Burks, Green Bay Packers (OVR 68)

Age: 23

Development Trait: Normal

Contract: 4 years/$3.28m

2018 Cap Hit: $770k

Best Stats: Speed (86), Acceleration (89), Tackle (78), Hit Power (83), Play Recognition (58), Zone Coverage (73)

Oren Burks was a third-round pick, #88 overall, for the Green Bay Packers this season. Burks played four years at Vanderbilt where he amassed 228 tackles, had 4.5 sacks, and 15.5 tackles for loss. He also picked off five passes, taking one back for a score, and broke up 21 more. At the combine Burks ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds and put on a show with a 39.5 inch vertical jump and 10’11” broad jump.

Burks has great speed (86) and acceleration (89) for a middle linebacker in Madden 19, but he’s a poor tackler which is a real problem. Like Young his play recognition is also remarkably bad. This is a player that can cover ground but won’t always be able to make anything happen when he gets to the ball. He is promising in coverage though, with all that speed, a zone coverage of 73, and jumping of 92.

Other rookie middle linebackers

NameTeamOVRDevelopment TraitContract2018 Cap Hit
Joel IyiegbuniweChicago Bears (Practice Squad)68NormalN/AN/A
Micah KiserFree Agent68NormalN/AN/A
Josey JewellFree Agent67NormalN/AN/A
Dorian O’DanielFree Agent67NormalN/AN/A
Shaun Dion HamiltonWashington Redskins (Practice Squad)66NormalN/AN/A
Devante DownsMinnesota Vikings65Normal4yrs/$2.49m$610k
Christian SamNew England Patriots65Normal4yrs/$2.57m$620k

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Toby Durant

Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.

 

I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.

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