Super Bowl LV was billed as an event for the ages, as a supposed change of guard had the potential to happen with Patrick Mahomes leading the Kansas City Chiefs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by Tom Brady.
An age gap of more than 18 years existed between the two quarters.
Mahomes looked set to take the reins as the game’s biggest star attraction. The old man had something to say about it, however.
The Buccaneers crushed Mahomes and the Chiefs– Literally as well as figuratively– to capture Brady’s seventh Super Bowl ring.
Now the two flaggers are reunited. This time, they will be on a level playing field as co-cover athletes for Madden NFL ’22: MVP Edition.
Madden NFL 22 @EAMaddenNFL
🏆 Two Super Bowl Champions 🏅 Two @NFL MVPS 🎮 Two 2x Madden Cover Athletes Greatest Coverage Ever # Madden22 https://t.co/ceMI9ouDE3
Brady is still the man, even though he will be 44 later this year. Mahomes, meanwhile, is the best player in the game. The transition from one to the other is not yet fully realized. So the two sharing the coverage represent the NFL today.
Eventually, the next big thing will replace both the individual who epitomizes the trend of the game.
For example, running backs featured prominently on Madden’s cover three times—Eddie George, Marshall Faulk et Shaun Alexander–in the first seven post-John Madden editions gracing the front of the game. Since then, the only running backs featured include one-year-old wonder Peyton Hillis honoring Madden ’12, thanks to an overwhelming vote from Cleveland Browns fans. The other is Adrian Peterson and Barry Sanders on the Madden 25 special edition, which split the covers depending on the system. No running back has featured on the cover of the past seven editions.
Today’s NFL is a very open league where quarterbacks thrive, wide receivers thrill, and passer hunt. As such, these posts headline the group with the most potential to be future Madden cover stars.
5. Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
David Dermer / Associated press
Ray Lewis graced a Madden cover. Troy Polamalu and Richard Sherman too. The NFL can be motivated by offense, but standout players on the other side of the ball always get their due.
Two factors work in Garrett’s favor.
From a simple talent standpoint, the Browns defensive end is the most naturally gifted defenseman in the league. The 6’4 “, 272-pound edge-rusher is hitched. He looked like Bruce Banner mid-transition to the Incredible Hulk entirely completely full during his appearance in the NFL Draft this year. His workouts are regular fodder for viral moments on social media. His physical prowess is also reflected in the field.
Even after testing positive for COVID-19 last season and missing two regular season games, Garrett still finished among the league leaders with 12 sacks. The first pick in the 2017 draft holds the league’s highest score since the start of the 2018 season, per Focus on professional football. Quite simply, Garrett is a 25-year-old convenience store.
Second, the Browns are now one of the league’s rising teams.
Given the franchise’s putrid history, Cleveland’s status as a legitimate Super Bowl contender puts its players in the spotlight for a championship-hungry fan base. Garrett is the Browns’ best player. It will receive the spotlight if Cleveland continues on its upward trajectory.
4. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars de Jacksonville
John Raoux / Associated press
The golden boy of football has arrived.
Lawrence was billed as the next great quarterback since his high school days when he earned the nation’s No. 1 rookie title. Nothing really changed once he entered the Clemson campus. As a true freshman, Lawrence became the Tigers’ starter after four games and helped lead the program to a national championship, where voters named him the offensive MVP of the game.
More than two years later, the inevitable has happened. The Jaguars selected Lawrence with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft in April.
Expectations are immense for the 21-year-old flagman. He has been dubbed the best quarterback prospect since at least 2012 when Andrew Luck entered the league. Ironically, Luck never became a Madden cover boy. Lawrence has all the potential to do it.
The rookie fits the prototype as a 6’6 ″, 213 pound quarterback with arm to test all three levels, athleticism to work inside and outside the pocket, mobility to create beyond the designed game and an unfazed nature in the face of pressure on or off the field.
“It will be a very easy transition,” said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, according to ESPN’s Michael DiRocco. “He’s well prepared. What he engages in, the expectations, all these things, is his normalcy and has been for a long time. ”
The inevitable overall picks # 1 don’t always work, at least at expected levels. Obviously, these people tend to get into terrible situations as the new face of the worst team in the league. To fully realize Lawrence’s potential as a franchise quarterback, the Jaguars must commit to improving his supporting cast.
If Lawrence lives up to expectations, he will be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, which garners a lot of adulation.
3. DK Metcalf, Seahawks de Seattle
Ted S. Warren / Associated Press
Nine years ago, Calvin Johnson was on the cover of Madden ’13. Comparisons between Metcalf and Johnson are inevitable, although the active wide receiver isn’t a fan.
“Stop comparing me to people. I am me. Play against me. Not just anyone else, ”Metcalf said in an interview on the Rich iron show (h/t NFL Update). “Calvin is Calvin. It is a blessing to be compared to him. I take the compliment with a grain of salt. I’m trying to forge my own path. “
The 23-year-old scored one point. At the same time, others comparing him to an all-time great should be seen as a positive. Like Johnson, Metcalf is a physical wonder.
At 6’5 ″ and 237 pounds with a speed of 4.3 seconds over 40 yards, the Hall of Fame wide receiver was unlike anyone else who has played the game. The comparisons are made because Metcalf brings a physical presence that no other receiver currently does, and the young target is already among the best in the league at his post.
Metcalf is a 6’4 ″, 235 pound powerhouse with elite vertical speed. His presence on the outside is intimidating as he’s built as if he’s ready to take on the next Herculean task demanded by the gods. His physical prowess demands the attention of the defender, coaches and fans.
Last season, the 2019 second-round pick finished among the league’s top eight in yards received, touchdowns, average yards per catch among receivers with 80 or more catches and first down receptions.
A national audience has already noticed if Metcalf’s Nesquick ads are any indication of this.
As long as Russell Wilson remains the Seahawks quarterback, Metcalf’s profile should grow as the most dominant wide receiver in the game.
2. Kyler Murray, Cardinals de l’Arizona
Matt York / Associate Press
The previous two Madden covers featured Mahomes and Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens. These two trailblazers showed just how important a quarterback’s ability to create outside of the structure and with their legs is to today’s offense.
The quarterback position, as a whole, is more athletic than ever. Like Sharp Football’s Riche Hribar Noted, quarterbacks hit all-time highs last season in league-wide run attempts (15.6%), ground distance (15.5%) and touchdowns ( 23.9%).
Murray looks like Warner Bros. ‘ Road Runner as he walks away from the oncoming defender. His legs pump at tremendous speeds with the ability to create chunky sets. He increased his rushing output to 819 yards and 11 touchdowns in his second season.
The quarterback’s running ability, however, is only part of the equation. Yes, Murray is dynamic when he escapes pressure and goes out into the open. But he’s also steadily improved as a passer.
Murray’s assists have increased across the board in his second season, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury expects even more from his quarterback this fall. Growth takes time as a quarterback. Murray is fortunate to have the same head coach and game coach for his third season.
“He’s really, really confident right now,” Kingsbury told reporters. “He masters our system.
“You can see the leadership qualities continue to emerge and we’re all really excited to have him here to watch where this thing can go with him as a leader. “
From a purely athletic standpoint, Murray is one of the most exciting playmakers in the game. Growing confidence and comfort level will only make the 2019 No. 1 overall pick even better.
1. Josh Allen, Bills de Buffalo
Jeffrey T. Barnes / Associated Press
Bills Mafia already lives and dies with every comment-positive or negative– made about their franchise quarterback, Josh Allen. This mentality is understandable after the quarterback and his fan base endured for two seasons as Allen struggled to find his place at the pro level.
As the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Allen has always had the full package from a physical standpoint. He is tall and athletic with a howitzer strapped to his right shoulder. But the inconsistency plagued him long before he donned the Bills uniform.
Allen’s massive frame of ignoring passer, coupled with odd athleticism for a 6’5 ″, 237-pound quarterback, got him off with a lot in his first two seasons. Poor decision-making was somewhat concealed because the Bills remained competitive thanks to Allen’s creativity as a runner. The quarterback totaled 17 touchdowns in his first two seasons.
Everything clicked in 3rd grade.
The one-off draft has grown into a full quarterback while also excelling in areas that drive defenses crazy. Allen finished in the top five overall in completion percentage, passing distance, yards per attempt, passing touchdowns, quarterback rating and QBR. He also got the first against the blitz, in footage from action game and when he scrambled, according to Pro Football Focus.
Allen has identified where he still needs to be better for his fourth season.
“The depths and short submarines of 5 meters–just making sure I put him in a grabbing spot for these guys to grab and run, ”the quarterback told reporters. “It will be a huge asset for us to be able to hit those types of shots and allow our guys to stand and keep moving. I didn’t do a good enough job with it last year. “
A better version of Allen after last season’s performances is so scary that Bills matches are expected to air on Shudder.
Like the Browns, the Bills are hungry for championship glory. Allen is giving Buffalo a chance to present himself as an MVP contender and one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.