The offseason is getting very, very long. I know it, you know it, the players know it, and hopefully the guys who control whether or not there is a season know it.
Even if there is not a season in real life, you can bet your bottom dollar that a virtual season will happen, as Madden 12 is set to release on August 30th, just about three months away. If you're like me, you've been supremely disappointed by the quality of the Madden video games over the last few years. In fact, I haven't played a good Madden game since my Playstation 2 days when I really didn't know any better.
In years past, the Madden video games have been far too focused on the online aspect of the game. Don't get me wrong, it's very fun to play against your friends or even people you've never met before online. However, I prefer the game's franchise mode, and channeling my inner general manager. Building dynasties on Madden is how I became so infatuated with the NFL Draft, but lately, it seems the game has been really lacking.
That's all going to change this year, as Madden has now included in-season rating change capabilities, in-depth prospect scouting, finely detailed computer controlled GM tendencies, more advanced free agency, and more. The improvements in the game sound directly linked to my personal preferences. This way, I can build a Denver Broncos dynasty, season or not (I prefer to have one, obviously).
So who will be the best Denver Broncos in the 2012 version of the Madden video game? Here are my predictions...
1. Champ Bailey, CB
As has been the case for years upon years now, I think Champ will undoubtedly still be the best player on the Denver Broncos' roster, though he could certainly be rivaled by my number two. Champ proved last year at times that he could still be a dominant cover cornerback, and I don't think the Madden video game crew will see it otherwise. Simply put, Bailey is one of the most dominant defensive players in the game when he's healthy, but with the way the new Madden ratings system is set up, the rating he starts with will likely be the highest one he has throughout the whole game.
Projected rating: 95
2. Elvis Dumervil, DE
As an outside linebacker in 2009, the Madden video game guys made a terrible mistake. Dumervil started out with a Madden 10 rating under 70 overall. Dumervil showed them how foolish of a move that was, as he became one of the premiere pass rushers in the NFL. Dumervil led the NFL with 17 sacks before a torn pectoral kept him out of the 2010 season, where he went into the Madden video game with one of the highest ratings on the Broncos. If you're die-hard like I am, you have already changed Dumervil to a defensive end, where he is a 99 overall rating. I do not expect him to be that this year, but I still think he will be one of the highest rated players on the Broncos.
Projected rating: 95
3. Ryan Clady, OT
Even though Clady struggled through his knee injury in 2010, he is still one of the most dominant offensive tackles in the NFL, and one of the more underrated ones as well. Despite his struggles, I think he will emerge in 2011 again as a Pro Bowl offensive tackle, and a guy who simply cannot be bested. He should be one of the best Broncos on the new Madden video game, but will the ratings crew be fair and realize he was hurt last year?
Projected rating: 94
4. D.J. Williams, LB
Williams is always one of the highest rated Broncos players on Madden, and I don't think that will change at all this year. He led the team in tackles last year, and while some people feel he is overrated, I think he is underrated. He made a bone-headed mistake last year, and could face a suspension this year, but he will still be one of the best Broncos on Madden. He is very athletic, has good speed, and will be back in his natural WILL linebacker position.
Projected rating: 92
5. Brandon Lloyd, WR
After a breakout eason and some of the craziest catches you will see from a receiver, Brandon Lloyd undoubtedly deserves a high Madden 12 rating. He is a veteran who knows how to get open, and he's become a quarterback's best friend. Lloyd was one of the best receivers in the NFL in 2010, as he punched his ticket to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. His ability to make the spectacular catch, and his overall route running ability and hands should give him a high Madden rating, and make him an exciting player to use in the game.
Projected rating: 91
6. Tim Tebow, QB
I don't anticipate Tebow being one of the highest rated Broncos in the game, but he is always fun to use, even in last year's game when he was vastly underrated as a rookie. With three games under his belt, Tebow should have a somewhat fair rating in the game, and with his prowess as a runner, he could be one of the more dangerous players in the game.
Projected rating: 80
7. Von Miller, LB/DE
Miller's best rating would probably come as a defensive end where his coverage skills don't factor into his rating, but he should absolutely be one of the fastest and most dynamic players on our team. His speed and ability to get to the quarterback are undeniable, and the makers of the game will have to give him significantly awful coverage ratings in order for him not to be a highly rated player. Miller will be a huge weapon for Broncos users in Madden 12.
Projected rating: 83-85
8. Matt Prater, K
Far too long, Prater has had a poor rating in the Madden video games. After a fantastic season in 2010, he should finally have his rating up there in the 90's. Prater has a booming leg and he nails his kicks with regularity. He's also one of the best kickoff specialists in the league. He should be considered a top 10-12 kicker in the NFL today.
Projected rating: 92
9. Demaryius Thomas, WR
No matter his overall rating, Demaryius will still be one of our best players on Madden. Despite his injury, Thomas is one of the biggest and fastest players on the team, and showed glimpses of those skills last year while he battled through various injuries. He might not be a very highly rated player, but darn it he will be fun to use on Madden.
Projected rating: 78
10. Offensive Line
J.D. Walton and Zane Beadles made great strides as a rookie, and you'd have to imagine that Chris Kuper would rank as one of the top right guards in the league. I think every one of those guys will have a rating over 80 overall, and they will give the Broncos a potentially dominant unit in franchise mode as you build for the future. Not to mention, rookie Orlando Franklin and incumbent starting right tackle Ryan Harris, the offensive line should be one of the stronger aspects of this team in the new game.