With training camp a little over a week away and August right around the corner, we're in the final stretch of summer tranquility in the NFL.
That means it's time for EA Sports' powerhouse football simulation franchise to stir the internet with a massive release of its player ratings for the newest version of Madden NFL.
With Madden NFL 20’s release less than three weeks away, EA dropped the entire league's digital stratification on Monday. Browns fans might be pleased with what they've found.
Let's start with the highest rated Browns player in Madden NFL 20: Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham owns an overall mark of 96, powered by a maximum spectacular catch rating of 99, 96 for short and medium route running, 94 for speed and acceleration and an eye-popping 98 for agility. If you've ever seen Beckham's footwork in person, you'd agree with that last mark.
Beckham has been a terror on the field since he stepped foot on one as a rookie in 2014, and his digital counterpart is, too. His presence alone should make the Browns a favorite choice of Madden players everywhere.
It's perhaps the first time we've been able to write such a line since Madden exploded in popularity in the last 15 years (OK, the Browns were a popular pick of players in Madden NFL 09, too), and the reason for it stretches well beyond Beckham. There's also pass-rushing nightmare Myles Garrett (pro tip: use his power rush moves to your advantage), a 91 overall, multi-talented back Kareem Hunt (90) and shutdown corner Denzel Ward (88). Those three follow Beckham in the Browns' overall ratings, but there's a name we still haven't mentioned.
He's pretty popular. He wears No. 6. And he's a newlywed.
Baker Mayfield is the 10th-best player on the Browns, according to Madden. Mayfield is tied with Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff as the 11th-best quarterback in the NFL, and that's after Goff's Rams landed in the Super Bowl last season. This might excite Browns fans, considering Mayfield's ranking among all NFL quarterbacks is about as high as his ranking on his own team. The point: These Browns have plenty of talent.
Now, there are scores of people upset with the ratings (as there are with each year's initial release). These marks are updated weekly by the intrepid ratings adjusters at EA Sports, and this time around at launch, they might seem more drastic. That's by design.
Madden developers made clear in a recent blog post that they intentionally stretched the spectrum of player ratings in order to achieve a more noticeable separation between the average and the elite in the NFL.
In previous years, perhaps Mayfield would have seen himself closer to 90 after he set the rookie record for touchdown passes. But when considering the ratings stretch, 83 overall is still pretty darn good -- and could jump if he plays well in real life.
Also in the Browns' top 10 between Ward and Mayfield were left guard Joel Bitonio (87), free safety Damarious Randall (86), running back Nick Chubb (85), wide receiver Jarvis Landry (84) and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (84).
While these might seem trivial, considering they're numbers assigned to virtual characters designed to resemble real-life counterparts, many NFL players take them seriously. Damarious Randall didn't take too kindly to his toughness rating of 74: