Vikings’ Diggs, Thielen rated as top WR duo in Madden 19
The bromance between wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen is well-documented in Minnesota (i.e. here, here and here).
This summer, creators of the new Madden 19 video game showed the pair some love as well.
Based on player ratings released by the franchise last week, the Vikings own the best wide receiver duo in football.
Diggs was rated 90 overall, good for ninth among NFL receivers. Not too far behind was Thielen, the Detroit Lakes, Minn., native, at an 88 rating and 18th overall. No other team in the league has its top two receivers ranked so high.
Two teams are close behind -- the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos. Denver’s duo of Emmanuel Sanders (88 overall) and Demaryius Thomas (88) are slotted just ahead of Detroit’s Golden Tate III (89) and Marvin Jones Jr. (87).
It should come as no surprise that Diggs -- responsible for the “Minneapolis Miracle” in the playoffs last year -- has a “spectacular catch” rating of 94. Thielen has the slight edge in overall catch rating (93) and catch in traffic (91).
Both players saw a jump from the Madden 18 launch last summer -- Thielen was rated 81 and Diggs 88.
On the other side of the ball, Madden 19 handed safety Harrison Smith the highest rating on the Vikings for the third straight year (97), good for first among safeties and tied for 11th overall across the NFL.
Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman inked a couple of big contracts in the offseason, but the Madden 19 crew apparently doesn’t see eye-to-eye.
Kirk Cousins, who signed a then-record three-year deal worth $84 million in March, is rated an 82 overall -- 16th among NFL quarterbacks, tied with Dallas’ Dak Prescott and Houston’s DeShaun Watson. It seems a bit humble for a QB who’s tallied 25+ touchdowns and 4,000+ yards passing in each of the last three seasons.
The scary part? Minnesota’s carousel of quarterbacks from last season aren’t ranked too far behind. Case Keenum, who led the Vikings to a NFC Championship appearance, comes in right behind Cousins at 81. Sam Bradford, now in Arizona, is rated 79 overall and Teddy Bridgewater, trying to continue his comeback story with the New York Jets, isn’t too far away at 78.
Another Vikings player who was shafted by the ratings was linebacker Eric Kendricks. The 26-year-old was rated a humble 79 overall after signing a five-year, $50 million deal this offseason -- pretty low for a player who’s led a top-five defense in tackles for the past three seasons. Also noteworthy: Madden 19 ranks Kendricks well below Anthony Barr (84 overall).
JUST FOR FUN
-- If the Vikings need a fourth-string quarterback this season, tight end Blake Bell might be the answer. Bell, who serves as the team’s backup long snapper, received generous ratings in deep ball accuracy (62) and throwing power (79) -- the latter ties the rating of former Vikings QB Taylor Heineke. Although it looks strange on paper, Bell was a backup quarterback at Oklahoma for three seasons before moving to tight end in 2014. In his collegiate career, Bell passed for 1,763 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions for the Sooners.
-- Xavier Rhodes has the best hops on the team, as his jumping skills were given a 96. Wide receiver Kendall Wright ranks seventh on the team (90) despite setting a Texas state record in high school with a triple jump measured at 15.48 meters in 2008.
-- The Vikings have a punter (Ryan Quigley) and two kickers (Daniel Carlson, Kai Forbath) on the roster, but if they need a fourth option, Madden 19 says sixth-round pick Ade Aruna is the way to go. Aruna, a defensive end, was awarded a kicking accuracy of 41 and kicking power of 59, the highest rating of any non-specialist player. Aruna did grow up in the soccer-friendly country of Nigeria, but he moved to the U.S. as a teenager to pursue basketball, not soccer.
-- If you thought the offensive line was Minnesota’s biggest problem heading into training camp, Madden 19 supports your argument. Riley Reiff is rated as the Vikings’ best pass blocker -- at 80. Fifty-seven NFL players have a pass-blocking rating above 80. And David Morgan, a tight end, is the Vikings’ top run blocker (83). Yikes.
-- Defensive end Danielle Hunter has the Vikings’ worst stamina rating (76). It makes sense, considering his sacks went down last season when his playing time increased.
-- The fastest Vikings player is Trae Waynes, whose speed was rated at 94.
-- Linval Joseph’s strength was ranked a team-high 97. Linval hungry.