This article is part of our The Reddit Madden League series.
In a matter of hours, the official start to the 2021 RML season will commence. While the most recent draft might not have been one of the deepest, it did prompt yours truly to dig into which draft was actually the best one during the first four years of RML. While I might have my own personal biases, I figured it was smart to bring in a much wiser source to the argument - data compiler extraordinare, and current RML Eagles owner, Andy Akers!
JB: Let’s be honest Andy, my second-year pick of Roy Blizzard was arguably one of the best Madden 18 RML selections of all time, right?
AA: I think with minimal bias, my selection of Derek Silva would definitely be my choice for the best player anyone has drafted in RML. There have only been 4 players drafted who were 84 overall or better and Silva is the only one who wasn’t a fullback or defensive tackle.
Slightly different conversation if we are considering the draft position though.
JB: You rolled with the joke too well Andy. I didn’t think we were taking into account people picked this year - just let me brag for like two seconds before you come in and squash it by talking about the god of all fake quarterbacks, Mr. Silva himself.
AA: Fair enough. If we aren’t talking about Derek Silva, there is not a clear choice and you could go a lot of ways. Lewis Bolston is a DT but he is also the only 85 overall that we have drafted. If you consider player’s value, I think you probably need to go with a slightly lower overall but more impactful choice. And it pains me to say that Roy Blizzard would definitely be in that conversation.There have actually been nine wide receivers, linebackers, and defensive ends rated 82 or better drafted during this iteration of Madden.
JB: Now that’s what I like to hear! I knew there was a reason I invited you to write this article with me. Let’s just stick to skill position players for a moment - is there a certain criteria in terms of overall pre draft compared to their final end-of-seasoning rankings that you use?
AA:If we are talking draft picks, I would lean more heavily on their draft skillset but can’t discount the results on the field. And it goes without saying that certain users have a tendency to spam players to the point where we consider adding rules to address them.
Roy Blizzard is definitely in the conversation here, being an 82 overall that finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. Jared Virgil was also an 82 overall but he actually won the defensive rookie of the year and has placed in Defensive Player of the Year as well. He would probably be the top choice.
JB:See, and that’s exactly why I don’t think awards should factor into whether the player was a good pick or not. Any yahoo or
Sether Notorious Nine can take one look at a player’s 40 time, select whoever is fastest, and then literally only throw to them for 16 games. That doesn’t take any skill whatsoever in terms of drafting. And really, it doesn't take any skill in terms of playing the game either, as evidenced by the 198 catches made by Gregory Steele during a four week span last season. Defensive players are a different story, because it’s tricky to “spam” them, but at least when it comes to offensive players, I would never vote for Jon Walters in terms of best pick for the reasons mentioned above. And just by the players you mentioned, it looks like you lean the same way.
AA: Agreed. I didn’t really consider anyone who wasn’t at least 80 overall on draft day (and yes, overall is very subjective, but I think that is a conversation for a different time). I do think that on field performance needs to play a part as not all 80 overall players are going to be dominant on the fields.
As far as spamming, I would argue that this is partly an issue of game dynamics. The game heavily incentivizes player growth via awards and even season goals, but the statistics it emphasizes is just wrong. For example, a wide receiver’s growth is more dependent on catches than receiving yards and touchdowns, which is about as backwards as it sounds. So, maybe even subconsciously, if you know your player’s goal is a certain amount of receptions, that impacts your decision making.
JB: Man, this was not supposed to be a conversation about how broken this game is that we love. Now I just feel sad, like the time I tried to make a joke about Weasel, and Seth somehow decided I was being serious. Let’s get back on track. I think last year’s class has to go down as one of the best, simply thanks to the depth that came into the league. I mean we had a whopping 21 players over 80 overall enter the league, with another 27 ranging between 79 and 77 overall. You could make an argument that there wasn’t enough star players that entered, but it’s tough to just assume based on a one year sample size.
AA: As far as having upper echelon rookies, last year’s draft is definitely the best one we’ve had. I think it seems that the star power was down mainly because of how many of these top players were on the offensive line or defense. I would just add that the first draft actually had a better average overall. I do think though that easily having more guys at the top is much more important than having better guys in the middle and the bottom. Even if you extend the “top” to be 75 overall or better, last year’s is still far superior to prior years.
JB: This most recent draft felt fun for a reason you just mentioned - more “talent” at the top of the draft. Aside from the Super Bowl champion somehow acquiring two top-6 picks in a top-heavy draft, having players like Silva or TJ enter make RML more fun, I think.
JB: No, Curtis Johnson, otherwise known now until the end of time as TJ (THE Johnson).
AA: That makes perfect sense. I am really looking forward to seeing the rookie quarterbacks this year, and not just my personal favorite Derek Silva. Mike Merritt and Grant Dutka are two of the top quarterbacks we have seen enter RML that just happened to be in the same draft class as a truly transformational figure like Silva. Both going to powerhouse teams is a huge shake up. Not to blow smoke up your ass but drafting Dutka was something no one saw coming and truly one of the biggest shocks in RML draft history. I didn’t even mention Max Tobeck who deserves to be in the conversation as well.
JB: I like “toot your own horn” better - it’s my second favorite Midwest phrase behind “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” God, proverbs are so dumb. Anyways, yeah, I tried to keep the Dutka love under wraps, but it seems to have actually hindered any chance at trading away Marcus Mariota. Whether it’s thanks to the introduction of Real Rookies or just a simple oversaturation at the QB position, I was anticipating more of a market for him than what I’m seeing so far. I always try to budget for worst case scenario, so I’m just anticipating franchising him until something right comes along, but I can’t help but think about if I would have done things differently and shopped Mariota pre-Draft. But then I go back to the Chiefs, who made their QB plans horribly obvious and as a result, missed out on the top 65 options and had to settle for Brody Coons, who has been passed around as much as a *Editor’s note: redacted for being grossly inappropriate*.
AA: You definitely would have risked Dutka not being there if your quarterback situation was that cloudy. At the same time, trying to shop a quarterback this late in the offseason significantly hampers your chances of being able to make a deal. Mariota is as great of a backup QB as there has ever been and I would bet that before the trade deadline there is someone with an injured or underperforming QB calling about Mariota.
JB: I would agree as well, which is why I’m not worried. At some point, some of these little-to-no cap teams will recognize it makes more sense to trade for Mariota now as opposed to re-signing their aging options, or allowing him to hit the free agent market and risk bidding against someone who might offer a player $35 million for one season.
AA: We are getting a little into the philosophy of how teams manage their teams. Obviously we all understand there is an expiration date for the league, but we all approach that end very differently. There definitely seems to be a knowledge gap as far as how well certain owners understand the ramifications of how moves affect the salary cap. I think the $35 million number is a major outlier but overspending for one guy with a one year deal is actually preferable than giving an aging player a longer deal that will outlive his ability to be a difference maker.
JB: That’s a fantastic segway into my last talking point - expiration point for Madden 18. We all wish Madden could be like MLB: The Show in the sense you can bring over rosters, but pining for that would be like wishing for Dan to not talk about bowel movements - it’s never going to happen. So instead, what if we seriously discuss bringing a player over from the following season? It would put a greater emphasis on the draft and finding top players, and also add another fun dynamic as we round out these next few months. Who says no?!?!
AA: I like the idea. At first I was on the fence about this and other wrinkles we have added but as we get later into the Madden season I think they help keep the interest high. Things like this that add continuity from one RML iteration to the next is a good thing in my book. Another nice touch is that it adds strategy in regards to if there is a certain kind of player you feel you absolutely need, because you can draft one even if it isn’t a need on your current team. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that it would be such a great addition if Madden could rollover franchises. And I am going to stop there before I unleash a novel about my hopes and dreams for Madden 19.
JB: There’s obviously some logistics that need to be worked, mainly the contracts of players and where they fit in regards to a new game. But it’s something I hope we begin to discuss and think about more as this year winds down.