Madden 20: Predicting Player Ratings – Interior defensive linemen

Life in the trenches is tough, but having monsters that can stop the run and even pressure the passer is key in Madden. Who are likely to be the best in Madden 20?

Madden often has a juiced up ratings system. Madden 19 hit the shelves with 6 players winning a maximum 99 OVR rating, far higher than the best players in FIFA, NHL, or NBA games will see. However, Madden 20 looks set to end that.

A ratings overhaul is coming to the NFL’s exclusive game franchise, increasing the spread of ratings as well as improving the tangible difference between a 90 OVR and an 88 OVR player. All of this means that the Madden 20 ratings are perhaps the most anticipated in Madden history.

While Face of the Franchise has been a point of focus in the build to Madden 20 and Ultimate team is always a draw, the base ratings for players in Franchise Mode and online play will always be vital to the experience of the game.

The ratings are expected to drop in July, but in the meantime we are left to speculate who will top the OVR charts. This article will look at the interior defensive line, those players that are labeled as either defensive tackles or 3-4 defensive ends, and we will group the players into three categories: Elite 90+ OVR stars, the difference-makers in the 85-89 OVR range, and then the solid beasts in the 79-84 range.

90+ OVR Interior defensive interior linemen

Likely interior defensive linemen: Aaron Donald (LAR), JJ Watt (HOU), Fletcher Cox (PHI), Damon Harrison (DET), Chris Jones (KC), Grady Jarrett (ATL)

Madden 19 had 9 DT’s or 3-4 DE’s that rated 90+, but that number should come plummeting down thanks to the emphasis they have placed on this ratings restructure they have been touting. However, one thing that shouldn’t change in Aaron Donald’s launch rating. A 99 OVR in Madden 19 should be a 99 OVR in Madden 20 after yet another superb season from the Rams player. Donald was once again named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2018, becoming just the third player to successfully retain that title. Donald racked up 20.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss. There isn’t a rating system worth its name that won’t give Donald a 99 OVR.

Traditionally hot on Donald’s heels in JJ Watt. The Texans defensive end may play more on the edge these days but he will still be listed as 3-4 defensive end on Madden 20. Watt was masterful in 2018, his first full season since 2016, as he picked up 16 sacks and 18 tackles for loss.

Next is likely to be Philadelphia’s chief disruptor Fletcher Cox. The beast in the heart of the Eagles defense has long been a nightmare for opponents since he was drafted in 2012. Last year was Cox’s best season as a pass rusher, picking up 10.5 sacks and winning a spot in the First Team All-Pro for the first time in his career.

Detroit’s best player in Madden 20 is likely to be their run-stuffing machine Damon Harrison. The big monster has been the best run-stopper in football the last few years and while he offers little as a pass rusher his play against the run is so sensational (ranked 1st by PFF) that he is likely to be in the 90+ range anyway.

The final players in the 90+ range should be two young guns. Kansas City’s Chris Jones flourished in 2018, his third-year in the NFL, and was a massive influence on the Chiefs defense. Jones finished the year with 15.5 sacks, 29 QB hits, and 19 tackles for a loss. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett was another player to raise his game to the next level. He produced 36 hurries and 6 sacks in 2018, along with 3 forced fumbles in the heart of an injury-hit Falcons defense.

Projected ratings

Aaron Donald: 99 OVR

JJ Watt: 95 OVR

Fletcher Cox: 93 OVR

Damon Harrison: 92 OVR

Chris Jones: 92 OVR

Grady Jarrett: 91 OVR

89-85+ OVR Interior defensive linemen

Likely interior defensive linemen:  Akiem Hicks (CHI), Jurrell Casey (TEN), Kawann Short (CAR), Kenny Clark (GB), Cameron Heyward (PIT), Ndamukong Suh (TB)

There are a lot of talented players that are likely to fall outside of the 90+ OVR rating this year thanks to the overhaul. They will drop into this bracket and cause a downward cascade as others drop into the realms “unreliable”.

The 89-85 range should start with Chicago’s unstoppable force Akiem Hicks, who received his first Pro Bowl invite last season thanks to 7.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss, as well as very well-balanced play against the run and 3 forced fumbles on the year too.

Tennessee’s Jurrell Casey is in a similar mold as Hicks. A do-it-all player in the front that provides good push at the top of the pocket and superb run defense. He put up 62 tackles last year, with 7 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

Carolina’s Kawann Short is used to a 90+ OVR in Madden, but after a disappointing 2018 season that saw him finish with 3 sacks he may well find himself in this second tier of defensive tackles.

Kenny Clark, Green Bay’s young star, should fall into this bracket too. He has been developing over the last few years, and in 2018 he pushed through with 6 sacks, 55 tackles, and 9 QB hits in 13 games.

Cameron Heyward has long been a strong player in the NFL. He fell away slightly after an All-Pro season in 2017, but 8 sacks, 10 TFLs, and 18 QB hits should be enough for another big rating in Madden 20.

The formerly elite Geno Atkins should end up in this range. He is usually a 90+ player but he’s now 31 and hasn’t sniffed an All-Pro berth since 2015. Atkins finished 2018 with 10 sacks and 13 TFL’s though, so he could out-perform our prediction.

Ndamukong Suh should also fall into this bracket. While he was impressive in the playoffs Suh had a lackluster regular season in Los Angeles, registering just 4.5 sacks and 4 TFLs.

Projected ratings

Akiem Hicks: 89 OVR

Jurrell Casey: 88 OVR

Kawann Short: 87 OVR

Kenny Clark: 87 OVR

Cameron Heyward: 87 OVR

Geno Atkins: 86 OVR

Ndamukong Suh: 85 OVR

84-79+ OVR Interior defensive linemen

Likely interior defensive linemen:  Gerald McCoy (CAR), Brandon Williams (BAL), Mike Daniels (GB), DaRon Payne (WAS)

This third tier will see several players who are perhaps used to being in the higher areas. Some of these players had 90+ Madden 19 OVR’s on launch, but with the ratings changes and an effort to make elite players more impactful they are likely to see their stock fall on Madden 20.

Gerald McCoy was recently released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after nine years of excellent service, but there is no doubt that his play has fallen away slightly in recent years as he picked up just 6 sacks and 6 TFLs.

The enormous run-stuffer Brandon Williams is likely to fall into this range after his first Pro Bowl season with Baltimore. The big nose tackle finished the season with just 1 sack but was a very good run defender so should have a solid rating.

Green Bay’s big defensive end Mike Daniels should fall here after an injury-hit season saw him play just 10 games in 2018 and make a limited impact when he was on the field, with 2 sacks and 1 TFL.

Another player who should find himself here is Washington’s second-year player DaRon Payne. A first-round pick in 2018, Payne was a beast in the middle, picking up 5 sacks and 6 TFLs as he established himself as a quality player in the NFL.

Projected ratings

Gerald McCoy: 84 OVR

Brandon Williams: 83 OVR

Mike Daniels: 81 OVR

DaRon Payne: 80 OVR

Do you agree with our projections? How do you think the interior defensive line position will shake out in Madden 20? Let us know in the comments below!

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Toby Durant

First Console: SNES / Favourite Game: Halo 2 / Currently Playing: Madden 20