football Edit

Ten NFL players whose Madden NFL 20 ratings are surprising

Khalil Mack
Khalil Mack (AP)

NFL players reacted this week to their ranking and other players’ rankings on the new EA Madden NFL 20 game. Below, we break down 10 players who were not highly-rated in their recruitment but had impressive ratings for the new video game. Here are some thoughts and memories of their recruitment as well:

RELATED: Ten players whose EA Madden NFL 20 ratings are not surprising

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals100 | Position | Team | State


EA rating: 99. Mack was a two-star linebacker out of Fort Pierce (Fla.) Westwood. He was considered a basketball recruit at first but after a knee injury in his sophomore season he turned to football.

Recruiting: Mack had a big senior season but the only school to offer was Buffalo and that’s where he played his college football.

Farrell’s take: Mack developed late and no one wanted to take a shot on him aside from Buffalo and now he’s emerged as one of the best players in the NFL. Anyone who said that they saw this coming is lying.

EA rating: 99. The three-star prospect was one notch away from a four-star ranking in the 2010 class, he was rated as the No. 37 defensive tackle nationally and No. 14 overall in the Pennsylvania state rankings.

Recruiting: In the spring before his senior season, the Western Pennsylvania prospect committed to Pitt over his other offers - Akron, Rutgers and Toledo.

Farrell’s take: I’ll take the heat on this one as I thought Donald was a bit short and not long enough to be a four-star. Boy, was I wrong. He was one spot away and I held him back, a very dumb move.


EA rating: 99. Wagner was a two-star prospect in high school and so he was not ranked by his position or in the California state rankings.

Recruiting: Utah State was the lone offer for the Ontario (Calif.) Colony outside linebacker before he went on to become a second-round NFL Draft pick.

Farrell’s take: No one saw this one coming either. He wasn’t heavily recruited and wasn’t a kid that jumped out on film, but he’s another late-bloomer who used the disrespect to spur his development.

EA rating: 98. The only wide receiver in the game ranked higher is DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans.

Recruiting: Brown had no offers coming out of Miami Norland in the 2006 recruiting class and he attended North Carolina Tech Prep. He applied to Florida State but was not admitted because of academic concerns, according to reports. He had a connection to coach Butch Jones, who landed the Central Michigan job and that’s where Brown ended up.

Farrell’s take: Brown played quarterback in high school and was very small but Jones saw him as a wide receiver and the rest is history. Academics played a role, but also his position in high school didn’t help either.

EA rating: 98. The only middle linebacker ranked higher in the game is Wagner and Kuechly is third on the overall linebacker list behind Wagner and Mack.

Recruiting: A three-star prospect who was ranked as the No. 44 outside linebacker in the 2009 class and No. 37 in the Ohio state rankings, Kuechly committed to Boston College over Cincinnati, Louisville, Illinois and Michigan State.

Farrell’s take: Kuechly was a safety in high school who had a huge growth spurt upon his arrival to college and became a monster. We saw his instincts away from the ball and now he’s the most cerebral defender in football.


EA rating: 97. In the 2009 class, Bakhtiari was a two-star prospect from Northern California so he was not included in the position or state rankings. He’s the top-ranked offensive tackle in the game.

Recruiting: A couple weeks before National Signing Day, Bakhtiari committed to Colorado over his other offers - Utah, Washington and UTEP.

Farrell’s take: This is a miss because he had BCS offers and was recruited heavily by a few schools. Sometimes Northern California players emerge late or get missed and that’s the case here.


EA rating: 97. Out of Whitehouse, Tex., Mahomes was a high-level three-star prospect who was the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback in the 2014 class. In that recruiting class, Deshaun Watson led the position rankings followed by Will Grier, Treon Harris, Jerrod Heard and Brandon Harris.

Recruiting: In April of his junior season, Mahomes committed to Texas Tech over Houston and Rice, his only other offers.

Farrell’s take: His numbers were ridiculous and we liked him enough to be a high three-star, but there were some who felt he was a system quarterback. The same was said by some scouts after his career at Texas Tech as well. I guess he’s proven everyone wrong.


EA rating: 97. Watt was ranked as a two-star weak-side defensive end in the 2007 class and he was seventh in the state rankings during that cycle.

Recruiting: Watt’s recruitment was something of a rollercoaster as he made commitments to Central Michigan and Minnesota only to back off both of them. Purdue and Cincinnati made late runs at him and Colorado was involved but Watt made a second pledge to Central Michigan and stuck with it.

Farrell’s take: Watt was a tall skinny kid who was being recruited as much as a tight end as he was as a defensive end. Once he got to Wisconsin he blew up physically and his motor was off the charts. Out of high school he was just another guy, believe it or not.

EA rating: 96. Kelce is the top-rated tight end in the game and he was a two-star athlete coming out of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who played quarterback in high school.

Recruiting: Kelce picked Cincinnati over Pitt, Virginia Tech, Iowa and others for many reasons including his brother, Jason, played for the Bearcats and then-coach Brian Kelly told him he could play quarterback there.

Farrell’s take: From two-star athlete/quarterback to All-Pro tight end, no one would have seen this coming. He was recruited as a quarterback and emerged as a big, athletic tight end which doesn’t happen that often.


EA rating: 95. Williams was ranked as a three-star offensive guard out of Longview, Tex., and he was No. 28 nationally at his position in the 2006 recruiting class and No. 63 in the state rankings. Sergio Kindle was the top player in the state that year, followed by Matthew Stafford.

Recruiting: Shortly after his official visit in December, Williams committed to Oklahoma over LSU, Oklahoma State and others.

Farrell’s take: Williams was a big lineman who was ranked as a three-star but didn’t blow anyone away athletically. Then he improved his footwork and technique and the rest is history. But I don’t think many saw his emergence coming.