EA Sports is nearing the end of its ratings extravaganza, and the safeties are latest to make an appearance. Like the modern NFL, this important part of the secondary is broken up into strong and free safety, both of which are tasked with multiple objectives. The strong safeties are responsible for covering extra receivers like tight ends and slot receivers, while the free safeties can roam around the back end of the field looking to make a play. In run situations, the free safety generally plays close to the line of scrimmage and lays a beating on the runners.
1. Reshad Jones – 93 Overall
2. Kam Chancellor – 91 Overall
3. Patrick Chung – 86 Overall
4. TJ Ward – 85 Overall
5. Morgan Burnett – 85 Overall
No longer is Morgan Burnett defined by the “Fail Mary” play against the Seattle Seahawks to the start the 2012 season. The Packers safety has developed into a solid cover player who can help out against tight ends with his larger size. Burnett isn’t quite the same player as some Packers defensive backs of the past, but he is still quite impressive.
TJ Ward had a solid career while playing for the Cleveland Browns, but he didn’t truly take off until he joined the Broncos and won a Super Bowl. Ward has always been a good player, but he didn’t get the same media attention in Cleveland, so he flew under the radar. The best thing about Ward is that he excels in run support like a free safety, but he also forces quite a few fumbles. Use the strip button often when controlling ward.
Patrick Chung has been an integral part of the Patriots defense for what seems like forever, but he actually left the team for a short period. However, Chung rejoined the Pats in 2015 and showed why he is favored by Bill Belichick. Chung has very good coverage skills to match up with running backs or tight ends going down the field. “Bam Bam” Kam Chancellor is possibly the hardest hitting safety in the NFL, and yet he’s the lesser known member of the Legion of Boom. Seattle struggled at times defensively when Chancellor’s strong hitting and decent coverage skills were gone because of injury. Once he returned, the Seahawks defense regained that championship form. The hit stick in Madden is Kam Chancellor’s best friend.
Before the 2015 season, Reshad Jones brought up the fact that his numbers were equal to the “big name” safeties in the NFL. Jones went on to discuss how he deserved more recognition. Well, Jones backed up the talk and became one of the best players in the NFL, and he also became the highest rated strong safety in Madden 17. Jones can hit like a linebacker and he can utilize speed to cover many of the best receivers in the game. He’s a good weapon to have while playing as the Dolphins.
1. Tyrann Mathieu – 96 Overall
2. Harrison Smith – 94 Overall
3. Eric Berry – 93 Overall
4. Earl Thomas III – 93 Overall
5. Malcolm Jenkins – 93 Overall
You don’t have to watch every football game during the season to see that Tyrann Mathieu is the best safety in the league. The Honey Badger, as he is known, is the heart of the Cardinals defense, and he’s a playmaker to boot. Mathieu can cover receivers, blitz quarterbacks, and take down even the toughest running backs. If you want further proof of the Honey Badger’s importance, just watch the Amazon series All of Nothing. Everyone on that team loves Mathieu.
Finally, Harry the Hitman gets some respect. The Vikings drafted Harrison Smith back in 2012, and he immediately became their best defender. In his short time with the team, Smith has intercepted 12 passes, returned four of them for touchdowns, and forced three fumbles. Smith also serves as the Vikings enforcer, breaking up passes and stopping players for a loss with his hits. Playing as the Vikings is fun in Madden because you can use Smith’s hard hits on almost every play, and then you can use his speed and athleticism to take interceptions back for six points.
Having fully recovered from Hodgkin’s lymphona, Chiefs safety Eric Berry had a solid 2015 and reclaimed his spot among the elite defenders. Berry is still one of the fastest safeties in the NFL, making his a must-have in passing situations. Berry can cover most tight ends, running backs, and all but a few wide receivers. Plus, Berry is solid in both man or zone coverage, so your playcalling in Madden is that much easier.
At one point, Earl Thomas III was the highest rated free safety in Madden, but times have slightly changed. Thomas is still an elite talent who basically runs the Seahawks defense, and he can make the splash plays when needed. The aspect that drops Thomas in the rankings is his man coverage, which is solid but not stellar. Thomas works best when roaming around the defensive secondary looking to intercept errant passes.
Malcolm Jenkins appeared to be on the back end of his career after some impressive years in New Orleans, but the safety found the fountain of youth in Philadelphia. In two seasons with the Eagles, Jenkins has surpassed his best years with the Saints in tackles, forced fumbles, and interceptions, all while matching his touchdowns total (2). Jenkins has found the perfect role for his skillset, and he’s an asset during those closely contested Madden 17 matches. Try to get Jenkins in zone coverage as much as possible.
The ratings are just about finished, and now the Punters and Kickers should be revealed.
Madden 17 will be released on August 23rd.