Now that the 2017 NFL season has sadly come to an end, it’s never too early to start looking ahead to next year and contemplate on who will land the coveted (or cursed, depending on who you ask) spot on the cover of Madden 19. There’s no shortage of tremendous athletes in the league worthy of consideration and, with that in mind, let’s break down some of the best bets.
It’s hard to argue with numbers and there are 137.5 million reasons to have Jimmy Garoppolo grace the cover of Madden 19, as he’s just become the highest-paid player in the league thanks to the new contract he signed with the San Francisco 49ers. After languishing behind the GOAT Tom Brady in New England, Garoppolo proved his worth by impressing in the 5 games he started after being traded by the Patriots. Granted, it’s a relatively small sample size to already be anointing Garoppolo as the best QB in the league this soon, but Madden might want to hop on the bandwagon early.
Move over Gronk, it’s time for a new tight end to be passed the torch as best in the league at the position and assume their rightful place on the cover of Madden 19. Kelce has been a dynamic threat for the Chiefs since he first entered the league in 2013, but he’s gradually taken his game to another level, especially as a red zone target for Alex Smith (and will likely continue doing the same for new starting QB Patrick Mahomes next year). He’s also known for being quite the passionate and animated player on the field, which can just as easily lead to an amusing touchdown celebration as it can an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Wouldn’t it be something to see Wentz on the Madden 19 cover just a year after he was forced to watch from the sidelines as his backup Nick Foles led the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship? Though no one knows yet where Super Bowl MVP Foles will land, Wentz was a season MVP favorite himself with 33 TD’s and 7 INT’s before he went down towards the end of the year and the Eagles have to now be considered contenders again heading into this season.
With all due respect to Blake Bortles, it was largely the Jaguars’ defense and ground game that spearheaded their unlikely playoff run and a large part of that effort was from rookie running back Leonard Fournette. Despite being narrowly edged out by Alvin Kamara for rookie of the year honors (largely because of Kamara’s superior work as a receiver), Fournette actually out-gained Kamara on the ground. If EA wants to go against the grain and opt for the promising offensive weapon who didn’t take home any hardware, Fournette would stand to be a likely candidate.
When looking ahead to next year’s Madden and considering all of the league’s young stars who could potentially land a spot on its cover, a good place to start is probably with last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Kamara was electric out of the Saints’ backfield in 2017, both as a runner and turning screen passes from Drew Brees into long gains thanks to his elusiveness and his innate ability to break tackles. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a great personality with a love for Airheads and a penchant for flashing gold grills in his mouth.
With one of the youngest and most exciting rosters in the NFL, there are a number of players from the Rams alone who could find themselves on the cover of Madden 19, including quarterback Jared Goff and stud defensive lineman Aaron Donald. But the smart money would be on workhorse running back Todd Gurley, who earned offensive player of the year honors for his performance in 2017 as he helped lead the Rams to an unlikely playoff berth.
When it comes to trying to find a defensive player with a decent shot at making the cover of Madden 19, there aren’t a lot of guys that fit the bill. Elite defenders like JJ Watt and Von Miller are getting a bit long in the tooth by NFL standards, making them unlikely to get the nod this coming year. Instead, look for EA to consider someone younger like Khalil Mack, who has certainly shown flashes of his potential thus far and has a great chance to develop into the best defensive player in the game in 2018.
Is it possible for the Madden curse to work retroactively? At the risk of putting such an electric talent in harm’s way yet again, Watson earned his way into cover consideration by capturing lightning in a bottle in the 7 games he played in during the 2017 campaign. Proving that he can thrive at the pro level in his first season, there may be no player with as much potential or as much hype as Watson heading into 2018. Here’s hoping the ACL tear that cut short his season hasn’t significantly diminished any of his skills.
Perhaps it would have been wiser to have placed Newton on the cover of Madden a few years back when he was just coming into his own, but better late than never, right? As it stands, there are still only a few stars in the league with a higher profile than Newton, and that’s even after a couple of mediocre seasons following his breakout Super Bowl year in 2015. If EA plays their cards right, they can even feature Newton’s trademark fashion sense and have players collect all of his stylish hats or something.
It’s actually a little shocking that Antonio Brown hasn’t already been on the Madden cover yet at this point in his career. Establishing himself as arguably the most dominant receiver in the game over the last few seasons, the only possible explanation is that Odell Beckham was a flashier choice for Madden 16 and the Steelers have been perennial also-rans in the AFC next to the Patriots (hence, the Gronk and Brady covers in recent years). There’s also the distinct possibility that the powers that be at EA simply can’t decide between Brown and his equally dominant Steelers teammate Le’Veon Bell for the cover.
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