Meet the 2021 New York Liberty draft class

ESM keeps track of all the New York Liberty’s happenings at the 2021 WNBA Draft, where they will first choose in the sixth slot.

The New York Liberty have four selections in Thursday night’s WNBA Draft (7 p.m., ESPN). ESM has the live tally below, as well as any Liberty-related draft happenings.

1st Round (6th overall): F Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA 

Onyenwere, standing at 6’0, could help at least partially fill the interior void Amanda Zahui B left behind and with Han Xu’s status in question. The former Bruins was second in the Pac-12 in scoring (19.1 per game) and fifth in rebounding (7.2). If the Liberty truly wish to embrace their youth movement, Onyenwere could work her way into the lineup fairly quickly. For her junior efforts, Onyenwere was named to the all-conference team alongside teammate Japreece Dean. She also has three-on-three experience and was part of Team USA’s Pan-American Games efforts in Lima. If the Liberty truly wish to embrace their youthful revolt, Onyenwere could well find herself a place in the starting lineup.

2nd Round (17th overall): G Didi Richards, Baylor

However long her stay in New York becomes, Richards hauls over a sizable trophy case, including the Big 12 and Naismith Committee’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. Though Richard’s shooting leaves something to be desired, she can be a decent offensive facilitator. In terms of training camp bodies, Richards should certainly keep things interesting on the practice courts.

3rd Round (25th overall): F Valerie Higgins, Pacific

The Liberty brought in yet another conference’s defensive heroine, with Higgins hailing from the West Coast Conference after spending her first year at USC. She led the conference with 99 steals, cementing her status as a strong ball defender and placing ninth in the nation.

3rd Round (29th overall): G Marine Fauthoux, France

The few, the proud, the Marines? That appears to be the case, as Fauthoux joins her fellow French national star Marine Johannes. The two previously collaborated on the team’s run to a silver medal EuroBasket Women’s 2019 in Latvia and Serbia.

Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb and select picks will speak at approximately 9:15 p.m. Follow @GeoffJMags for updates.

Four NCAA Women’s Basketball prospects for New York Liberty fans

As the 2021 NCAA Tournament gets underway in Texas, ESM has a player from each region for New York Liberty fans to watch.

The 2021 WNBA Draft will be a little more difficult for the New York Liberty this time around.

When the last selection meetings were held last spring, the Liberty had the luxury of taking consensus top pick and college basketball record book author Sabrina Ionescu out of Oregon. This year, however, with the draft far more wide open and no agreeable top overall choice, the Liberty must do their due diligence, especially with the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament underway in Texas settings. The Final Four will be held on April 2 at The Alamodome in San Antonio with the national title game coming two days later. For the first time, every game of the women’s tournament will be nationally televised, with the games airing on the ESPN family of networks starting on Sunday.

ESM has a player from each region for New Yorkers to keep an eye on as the tournament gets underway…

(For the full NCAAW bracket, click here)

Alamo: G Dana Evans, Louisville

In the midst of this successful Cardinals run, having won at least one tournament game in each of the last nine editions (including a runner-up finish in 2013), the Liberty have more or less viewed them as a de facto farm team. They drafted Asia Durr second overall in 2019 and added Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook with consecutive picks in last year’s selections. Jones rose to the occasion at the one when Ionescu went down, earning All-Rookie Team honors at the end of the year.

Ideally, the Liberty will welcome back 2020 opt-outs Asia Durr and Marine Johannes, but Evans can provide some insurance at the spot. The ACC’s leading scorer would immediately help a Liberty team that finished dead-last in points per game (71.9, nearly nine full points behind 11th-place Washington) and her propensity for three-point shooting would undoubtedly fit in Walt Hopkins’ vision. Evans’ speed, particularly in transition, has also earned positive reviews, and immediately working with familiar faces like Jones and Shook could help her make an immediate impact.

See her in action: Monday vs. No. 15 Marist (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Hemisfair: F Jasmine Walker, Alabama

Walker has made her WNBA intentions abundantly clear. In a heartfelt piece on FanWord, Walker mentioned that despite a self-described late entry into the game, making the WNBA has become the ultimate dream.

“I started late in the sport, but everything just came so natural,” Walker wrote. “I continued to improve every year, and by the time I was in high school, I had already made up in my mind that I wanted to play in the WNBA. So I always set a goal in whatever I did to be productive in accomplishing that dream.”

Accomplished on and off the court as an SEC Academic Honor Roll member, Walker fulfills not only the Liberty’s scoring requirements but their issues in the interior as well after the departure of Amanda Zahui B. Bringing in veteran free agent Natasha Howard certainly helps, but Walker can provide interior depth. The Liberty are apparently pleased with Kiah Stokes’ attempts to become an outside threat…having attempted 85 tiples after only three in her first four years…but they must make up for the paint deficiencies that may come with Stokes’ new role.

See her in action: Monday vs. No. 10 North Carolina (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Mercado: G Arella Guirantes, Rutgers

In this unusual season, perhaps no fifth-year senior has upped their stock more than Guirantes. Formerly of Texas Tech, Guirantes led the Big Ten in scoring and finished ninth in the nation in the same category. Of note, Guirantes put up 22.1 points against opponents ranked in the RPI’s top 50. In a happening one can almost view as fateful, Guirantes know what it’s like to work with Liberty royalty, at least indirectly. This season, she broke Sue Wicks’ record for most successful free throws in the program’s illustrious history. The Liberty managed to get to the line 18.4 times a game last season, good for seventh in the league.

Legendary Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer called out Guirantes’ leadership skills and locker room prescience upon her decision to return for the fifth year.

“Arella is the perfect leader to bring Rutgers women’s basketball to the next level as we continue our resurgence as a national power,” Stringer said, per ESPN’s Graham Hays. “We appreciate her dedication to our program and her commitment to excellence. Her work ethic and competitive drive is second to none, and we are excited to welcome her back for her senior season.”

See her in action: Monday vs. No. 11 BYU (12 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

River Walk: F Rennia Davis, Tennessee

A two-way player, Davis’ drop in three-point production (27 percent this season) might scare some teams off, but the new-look Liberty have been shown to appreciate players unafraid to capitalize on open looks. Davis also fulfills the Liberty’s requirements of searching for rebounding help in the post-Zahui B era, as she has earned 37 double-doubles in her Knoxville career.

She has also appeared to have fulfilled her preseason goals of controlling the ball better and her conditioning. Davis had 11 games in which she had two or fewer turnovers and played at least 35 minutes in 11 more, the best tally being 41 minutes in an overtime tilt against fellow tournament participant West Virginia. Her ultimate resiliency was on display during the SEC Tournament festivities in Greenville. Davis twisted her ankle in the first half but returned to earn a career-best 33 points in the 77-72 quarterfinal victory over Ole Miss. In another notable performance, Davis tallied 24 second-half points when the Lady Vols ended South Carolina’s SEC winning streak on February 18.

See her in action: Sunday vs. No. 14 Middle Tennessee (2 p.m. ET, ABC)

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

BREAKING: New York Liberty win No. 1 draft pick for 2021

For the second straight year, the New York Liberty will choose first in the WNBA’s draft proceedings, set to be held next spring.

The New York Liberty hit the jackpot at the WNBA Draft Lottery for the second consecutive season, earning the top overall pick for a selection process set to be staged next spring.

New York cashed in on their top odds (44.2 percent), coming out on top of the four-team sweepstakes amongst the non-playoff participants. The Dallas Wings will choose second, while the Atlanta Dream and Indiana Fever round out the top quartet. Last season, the Liberty chose Oregon recordbreaker Sabrina Ionescu with the topic pick. She was limited to three games due to an ankle injury, but managed to briefly impress, scoring 33 points in her second career game.

The lottery was held during halftime of the nationally televised matchup between No. 5 Louisville and No. 20 DePaul. Louisville, which has three representatives on the Liberty roster (Asia Durr, Jazmine Jones, and Kylee Shook), took control in a 116-75 victory in a game held at Mohegan Sun Arena.

General manager Jonathan Kolb represented the team for the second straight season. Upon earning the top overall pick, Kolb said the first thing he envisioned was “Sabrina jumping up and down on her healed ankle”.

“I was trying to contain my own excitement,” Kolb said with a smile in a Zoom press conference call after the reveal. “I was mostly happy for the fans, the fans that have been ride or die with this team since 1997 deserve this. They deserved it last year. I think if you really look at the trajectory of this franchise, where it’s going from an ownership, front office, coaching standpoint, now player acquisition standpoint. This is exciting, it’s an exciting time to be a fan.”

Inside the WNBA’s Bradenton bubble, the Liberty finished a league-worst 2-20 sans Ionescu for a majority of the year, but enjoyed contributions from several rookies. Jazmine Jones, the final pick of last season’s first round, was named to the league’s All-Rookie team while filling in for Ionescu at point guard. Seven rookies partook in at least one game for the Liberty, a situation brought upon by several regular players (including Rebecca Allen, Marine Johannes, Han Xu, and 2019 second overall pick Asia Durr) opt-out of the proceedings. Several players have moved on overseas, where they’re competing in foreign leagues.

Kolb remained in a celebratory mood, but he expressed hope that draft lottery night would not be the only be the only time that the Liberty would be in the headlines far more often.

“We have an exciting opportunity for a hybrid rebuild…we can be super competitive while bringing the Liberty down the road for the future,” Kolb said. “In free agency, we’re going to be really aggressive…I don’t think tonight is the only night we’re going to be in the news over the next few months.”

The date for the 2021 draft has yet to be determined.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Denzel Mims earns positive reviews in NFL debut

The ache of yet another New York Jets loss was somewhat soothed by the emergence of Denzel Mims, who made his NFL debut on Sunday.

It’s bad enough that the New York Jets have subjected their fans to such a brutal season in the midst of uncertain times. But for the first six games of this cursed trek to provide little in terms of hope for the future, it was downright cruel to a supporter base that has dealt with countless examples of football malarkey over the last five decades.

Entering Sunday’s MetLife Stadium tilt against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets had lost their first six games by an average margin of just over 18 points. Even the promise of showcasing young talent fell by the wayside in these early games. Punter Braden Mann has certainly been busy (leading the NFL with 39 kick-aways), but injuries (Mekhi Becton, Cameron Clark on the line) and mismanagement (La’Mical Perine still struggling to earn more carries that Frank Gore) have prevented other members of the Jets’ 2020 draft class from getting opportunities in relatively consequence-free situations.

Up until the buildup to Buffalo’s visit, Mims was stuck in the former category, sidelined by a hamstring issue that cost him the majority of his debut NFL training camp. The second-round pick out of Baylor was activated on Saturday and granted his first NFL action a day later in East Rutherford. While a victory was once again too much to ask for, Mims made the most of his new opportunity.

The Jets fell by an 18-10 final to their divisional rival, but Mims led the team with 42 yards on a quartet of receptions, his longest being a 16-yard gain up the middle in the second quarter. Mims was shut out, along with the rest of the Jets’ offense, as the unit gained only four years in the second half while they watched a 10-0 lead evaporate. But the rookie nonetheless earned positive reviews after his first four quarters of NFL action.

“Denzel did some really good things out there for us,’’ quarterback Sam Darnold said, per Mark Cannizaro of the New York Post. “He’s a big body, a fast dude who can go up and make plays, make contested catches. We’re going to continue to use him in ways that provide us opportunities for that.’’

“Early it looked like there was some good stuff there. He showed up, he made some plays, made some catches,” head coach Adam Gase added in a report from Christine Watkins of Sports Grind Entertainment. “You could tell his length is real, he uses his body to his advantage.”

Mims was sure to soak up all the intensity an NFL setting had to offer, but even he took a moment to be starstruck upon earning his catch as a professional.

“I had a big grin on my face,” Mims said, according to Andy Vazquez of NorthJersey.com. “I knew that I was getting the ball that play and when I made the catch, I was very excited. … I knew that all I had to do was look the ball in and make the first catch.”

Mims did a solid job getting open throughout the afternoon. He made two big grabs on the Jets’ lone touchdown drive of the day and later provided a crucial block on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White on the score, punched in by Perine.

“It was a little faster than what I’m used to in college,” Mims said of the game’s tempo, per Vazquez. “But I adjusted quick. I knew that I had to play at that speed, or faster to make something happen on offense.”

Mims and the Jets (0-7) face a bigger challenge next weekend, as they’re set to battle the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Happy Birthday Jazmine Jones; Four fun facts about the New York Liberty rookie

Jazmine Jones, New York Liberty

Having turned 24 on Thursday, the New York Liberty rookie recently wrapped up a strong freshman campaign in the Bradenton bubble.

If the 2020 season was any indication, the New York Liberty might’ve found lasting franchise contributors at both the top and bottom of the first round of the most recent WNBA Draft.

Eleven picks after the highly publicized selection of Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu with the top overall pick, the Liberty closed things out by acquiring Jazmine Jones with the 12th and final choice of the opening proceedings. That pick was obtained in the historic trade that sent franchise face Tina Charles to Washington in a multi-team deal.

A rebuilding campaign for the Liberty inside the WNBA’s Bradenton bubble was pacified by the performance of Jones. The newly-minted 24-year-old, who celebrated her birthday on Thursday, wound up becoming one of the Liberty’s most consistent silver linings, appearing toward the top of almost every major rookie stat, including the freshman league-lead in steals (1.4 per game). Her efforts led to a nomination for the WNBA’s official All-Rookie team, the first New York representative since Brittany Boyd and teammate Kiah Stokes made it in 2015.

“Jazmine works extremely hard. She really wants this,” veteran forward Amanda Zahui B has said of Jones. “She really wants to be great. She goes hard at practice and she’s very vocal. She’s a great leader.”

“The main thing about Jaz is her energy,” head coach Walt Hopkins added. “When she brings her energy, no matter what, she brings us a lot. It’s defensive, it’s toughness, swagger. Jaz has been huge for us.”

In honor of Jones’ special day, ESM has four facts about the former Louisville Cardinal…

She’s a Criminal Justice Major

Jones’ off-the-court accolades as a Cardinal were just as illustrious as the ones she earned on the hardwood. In addition to countless courted conference honors, Jones was named to the ACC’s All-Academic team twice, including her senior campaign. She majored in criminal justice, and, upon choosing Louisville over Floridian rivals Florida State (the Tallahassee native was offered a Seminoles scholarship in eighth grade) and Miami, revealed to the Courier Journal’s Jonathan Lintner that she wanted to take up a different kind of defense through a job in the FBI. 

2020 Was a Throwback to Her High School Days

Jones was the first player with the “SG” initials (shooting guard) attached to her name chosen in April’s draft. However, the early injury to the touted point guard Ionescu forced her into territory unchartered since her high school days at Florida A&M’s Developmental Research School.

When Ionescu was lost for what was eventually the year in just her third WNBA game, Jones was called upon to take her spot. She responded with six consecutive games in reach double-figures and some tenacious defense that got the attention of her veteran WNBA peers.

“She really wants to be great,” Zahui B said. “She goes hard in practice and she’s very vocal. She is a great leader, so for her stepping up and playing the one, which is not really her position.”

Jones wound up averaging 10.8 points per game, one of only four full-season rookies to do so.

No One Has Played More Games as Louisville Cardinal

Louisville has produced some strong players from its women’s basketball program. The Liberty have recently taken to painting their new Brooklyn borough maroon, as Jones is one of three former Cardinals chosen over the past two drafts. Asia Durr, the second overall pick from 2019, missed the bubble endeavor after testing positive for COVID-19, but Jones was joined by Kylee Shook, who chosen immediately after her as the first pick of the second round.

Jones joined an illustrious list of Cardinals chosen in the first round, joining Durr, Angel McCoughtry, and Shoni Schimmel. The ongoing health crisis cut things short, but Jones also became the program’s all-time leader in games played, passing Schimmel and Myisha Hines-Allen.

It’s Hard to Keep Up With the Joneses

It feels like Jones was destined to make some sort of difference in the athletic world from the very start, as sports runs through her blood. Her father Reginald is a former Florida A&M Rattler, while one of her sisters, Gigi Thomas, foreshadowed her success on the hardwood at both Appalachian State and Jacksonville. Her brother, Reginald Jr., earning 60 tackles over four seasons on the defensive line for Florida International’s Golden Panthers.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets sign Ashtyn Davis, complete rookie class signings

New York Jets, Ashtyn Davis

The New York Jets rounded out the signings of their freshman class by agreeing to terms with the Cal safety/return man.

The New York Jets have signed every member of their 2020 draft class, having confirmed the final inked contract on Thursday night. Cal-Berkeley safety Ashtyn Davis was the pick in question, but the team confirmed the official addition of April’s 68th overall pick.

“I think I can contribute anywhere they put me. I’m comfortable on the outside and inside, whatever the case may be,” Davis said in a statement on the team’s website. “After my first year of playing safety, I wanted to know every position and not just my responsibility. That way if someone went down they could put me in.”

Davis was indeed a man of many talents with the Golden Bears. Doubling as a hurdler on the track and field squad, Davis earned 166 tackles to go with seven interceptions on the gridiron. Davis also made a name for himself as a returner, averaging 22.9 yards on kickoffs. The 26.2 yards he averaged during the 2018 season were good for second in the Pac-12.

All-conference team honors awaited Davis in both his junior and senior campaigns, with first-team accolades coming in the former.

“Ashtyn brings speed, ball skills and versatility,” general manager Joe Douglas said in the same statement. “You can see him line up and cover a slot receiver and cover him in man coverage, you can see him line up as a high safety and range over to the sideline to make a play on the ball, you can see him attack the alleys in the run game, you can see him blitz.”

The pick used to draft Davis was obtained from the New York Giants in exchange for defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Davis was one of two third-round picks for the Jets, the other being Jabari Zuniga 11 picks later.

New York is set to open training camp on July 28 at Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Megan Walker joins New York Liberty in WNBA bubble

The New York Liberty are set to add another rookie to their proceedings, as Megan Walker has reported to Bradenton.

New York Liberty rookie Megan Walker is set to join her New York Liberty teammates at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida for the 2020 WNBA season. The University of Connecticut alumna tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the team’s departure but a pair of negative tests this week has allowed her to partake.

Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb confirmed that Walker had arrived during remote press availability on Thursday afternoon.

“Right now, she’s in the league’s quarantine protocol,” Kolb said via Zoom. “Assuming that she tests negative throughout timeline, we expect her to be with us early next week.”

Walker was the Liberty’s second pick in the WNBA Draft. She was an early entry into the pros after averaging 19.7 points and 8.4 rebounds in her junior season. The Richmond, Virginia native earned the American Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year Award for her efforts. Previous winners include WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart and Napheesa Collie, last season’s Rookie of the Year. The Liberty chose her with the ninth overall pick in April.

Head coach Walt Hopkins said that Walker has remained in contact with both the coaching staff and her teammates throughout the process.

“We’ll have these next few days to talk to her as much as possible,” Hopkins said. “When I talked to her last night, she didn’t sound out of sorts with anything. She was right there with us. She has watched practices, the ones we have recorded. She’s gotten to watch the scrimmages and seems to have a really good handle on what we’re trying to do.”

Walker is one of seven rookies on the current Liberty roster. The list is headlined by top overall pick Sabrina Ionescu, who is joined by fellow draftees Jazmine Jones, Kylee Shook, and Leaonna Odom. Jocelyn Willoughby was added through a draft-night trade with Phoenix while Joyner Holmes was signed after veteran Rebecca Allen opted out of the 2020 season.

The Liberty will officially tip off the WNBA’s Floridian endeavors on Saturday afternoon against the Seattle Storm (12 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Mekhi Becton set to ink guaranteed deal (Report)

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

The New York Jets signed the 11th overall draft pick on Monday, as both he and the team were happy to reveal.

The New York Jets have announced the signing of first-round pick and offensive lineman Mekhi Becton. This signing comes hours after the team confirmed they were set with fellow selections Jabari Zuniga and James Morgan.

Becton himself confirmed his signing on social media in capitalized fashion.

Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the deal is worth a fully-guaranteed $18.45 million over four years. Rapoport has also stated that Becton is in the New York area, hinting that he will be ready to report to training camp on Tuesday with other first-timers.

The Jets chose Becton with the 11th overall pick out of Louisville in April’s NFL Draft. It marked the first time the Jets had taken an offensive with their top pick since 2006, when they chose D’Brickshaw Ferguson sixth overall. He was the third lineman chosen in 2020, following fellow tackles Andrew Thomas (4th, NY Giants) and Jedrick Wills (10th, Cleveland). The Highland Springs, Virginia native is set to play a major role in the Jets’ offense, namely as a left tackle protecting the blindside of quarterback Sam Darnold.

Becton established himself as one of the most dominant linemen in the nation during his time as a Cardinal. He started 23 games at Louisville and later earned first-team All-ACC honors. The Cardinals surprised many with an 8-5 record last season, though Becton skipped the team’s Music City Bowl victory over Mississippi State.

“I want to start as a rookie and I want to make the playoffs. I would say those would be my rookie goals,” Becton said in a write-up by Eric Allen of NYJets.com. “I like to finish and I like to dominate in the run and in the pass. That’s what I’m going to bring him to the table.”

With the signing of Becton, third-round choice Ashtyn Davis remains the only draft pick that hasn’t inked his first green contract.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets sign trio of 2020 draft picks (Report)

DL/LB Jabari Zuniga, QB James Morgan, and P Braden Mann are the latest New York Jets draft picks to officially sign their rookie deals.

The New York Jets revealed that two more draft picks signed with the team on Monday evening. New York confirmed that they signed defender Jabari Zuniga and quarterback James Morgan, while Manish Mehta of the New York has stated that the team has also officially added punter Braden Mann.

Mehta also had the financial terms for each first-year. Each is worth four seasons, with Zuniga earning $4.73 million, Morgan getting $4 million, and Mann rounding it off with $3.47 million.

Zuniga was the latter of the Jets’ pair of third-round picks, chosen 79th overall out of Florida. Injuries limited Zuniga to five games in his senior season, but he nonetheless managed 33 sacks over four seasons in Gainesville. Capable of playing on both the line and at linebacker, Zuniga was placed on the Chuck Bednarik Award watchlist (awarded to the nation’s top defensive lineman) during a junior campaign that saw him earn 45 tackles, including 11 for a loss, and 6.5 sacks.

Morgan is set to partake in the Jets’ competition for the backup quarterback job behind Sam Darnold. He was chosen in the fourth round (125th overall) out of Florida International. Despite spending only two seasons with the Golden Panthers, having transferred there from Bowling Green, Morgan ranks second in FIU history in passing yardage (5,312) and touchdowns (40).

Mann was the Jets’ final pick of the April proceedings, having his name called with the 191st overall pick. The Texas A&M product was one of the most prolific punters in college football history, earning unanimous All-American honors and the Ray Guy Award (bestowed to the nation’s top punter) after his junior season. His 51.0 average is the best in NCAA history.

With these signings, first-round pick Mekhi Becton and third-rounder Ashtyn Davis are the only Jets selections who have yet to sign.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Jets: Top ten in Madden NFL 21 ratings leak

New York Jets

Gamers in green got a bit of a treat this week, as the New York Jets’ ten best players in Madden NFL 21 were revealed.

The status of the 2020 NFL season may be in question, but pixelated gridiron endeavors are perhaps more ensured than ever.

As the arrival of Madden NFL 21 looms next month, player ratings from the game have begun to trickle out through either leaks or official releases from developer Electronic Arts. Popular Madden strategy and fan site Madden School (which is not affiliated with EA) has obtained the top ten highest-rated players from each of the league’s 32 teams. The top portion of the Jets’ list is dominated by defense, with six defenders leading the rankings. Safety Jamal Adams headlines the proceedings with a mark of 92, up two points from last season.

The full top ten is below…

Player Rating Difference From Madden 20
S Jamal Adams 92 +2
RB Le’veon Bell 87 -5
LB CJ Mosley 85 -2
LB Avery Williamson 83 -2
CB Pierre Desir 81 +1
S Marcus Maye 81 +3
CB Brian Poole 80 +3
WR Jamison Crowder 80 +1
RB Frank Gore 79 -2
G Brian Winters 79 -3

Additionally, EA officially released the top ten players in each skill position, as well as the ratings for rookies in those spots…

Player Rating
WR Denzel Mims 70
RB La’mical Perine 66
QB James Morgan 60

Notably absent among the top ten is quarterback Sam Darnold, who had a 74 labeling in last year’s original postings. Madden rankings can fluctuate and update throughout the season, so these rankings are subject to change.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is set to grace the cover of Madden NFL 21, which will be the 34th edition of the iconic franchise. Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey are the latest members of the “99 Club”, earning the highest rating a player can achieve in the game, which is named after renowned football coach and commentator John Madden. Brett Favre is the only Jets player to grace the cover of Madden. He originally appeared in a Green Bay Packers uniform for Madden NFL 09 (released in August 2008), but an alternate cover was made available after he was traded to New York shortly before the start of the season.

Madden NFL 21 well be released on August 28 on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags