Trent Brown

Madden 20 ratings: Which Raiders players are overrated, underrated

Madden 20 ratings: Which Raiders players are overrated, underrated

The Oakland Raiders were pretty awful in 2018, and the folks over at EA Sports apparently weren't asleep at the wheel.

The video game conglomerate recently released the rankings for every player in "Madden NFL 20," and the Raiders don't look great.

Three of the Raiders' five highest-rated players are new additions, with wide receiver Antonio Brown checking in at 98 overall as Oakland's highest-rated player. Center Rodney Hudson (93), safety Lamarcus Joyner (85), wide receiver Tyrell Williams (83) and quarterback Derek Carr (80) round out the top five.

As a team, the Raiders netted an overall team rating of 80, tied with the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals.

With that out of the way, let's take a look at which members of the Silver and Black are overrated and which are underrated in the popular game. Why, you might ask? Because it's July. 

Underrated

Antonio Brown, WR (98): No, this isn't a joke. Yes, Brown is a 98 overall and is the second-highest rated receiver in the game behind the Houston Texans' Deandre Hopkins (99). Therein lies the gripe. Brown, for all his locker-room warts in Pittsburgh, has been the best receiver in the game over the last five seasons and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. He should have been a no-doubt member of the 99 Club along with Hopkins.

Johnathan Abram, Safety (69): While the Mississippi State product received nice rating, a first-round pick of Abram's quality deserved a little higher of a nod. Rookies in the secondary often struggle initially, but Abram has impressed early on in camp, and he likely will earn a starting spot alongside Karl Joseph (78 rating). I expect him to be one of the more impressive rookies this season.

Trent Brown, OT (78): If one of the Raiders' biggest offseason acquisitions only performs at a C-plus level, the Silver and Black will be in trouble. Brown had a decent year with the New England Patriots last season, but really came on in the playoffs, ranking second among the 24 offensive tackles who played at least 50 snaps by grabbing a 79.9 grade, per Pro Football Focus. If Brown performs at that level with the Raiders, his rating should improve as the updates trickle out.

Properly Rated

Derek Carr, QB (80): Carr might end up having a better year than his initial rating suggests, but based on his performance last season this seems like a fair place to put the Raiders' signal-caller. If there is a gripe, though, it's with some of the quarterbacks who are ranked ahead of or alongside him. Andy Dalton (80), Dak Prescott (81), Kirk Cousins (81) and Jared Goff (83) all are rated the same or higher than Carr. While Goff had a great 2018, it's hard to say he's a better overall quarterback than Carr, and with the offensive weapons the Raiders brought in during the offseason, Carr should enjoy a much better statistical season than he did a year ago.

Clelin Ferrell, DE (74): The No. 4 overall pick gets the "reach" rating, accumulating a ranking much lower than normally associated with his draft position. The Clemson product had a productive college career, but he'll have to prove he's an every-down edge rusher in order to rise to meet the rest of the rookie class edge rushers (Josh Allen (77), Nick Bosa (78) and Ed Oliver (79)).

[RELATED: Biggest question facing each AFC West team]

Overrated

Doug Martin, RB (78): After rushing for just 723 yards and four scores last season for the Raiders, this is way too high for a running back who is transitioning from muscle hamster to mentor in the twilight of his career. Expect rookie running back Josh Jacobs (74) to get the lion's share of the carries this season while Martin helps him adjust to life in the NFL. Mentor rating: 99. Actual running back rating: somewhere in the low 70s.

Richie Incognito, LG (76): He didn't play last season and will miss the first two games. He probably deserves to be rated in the low 70s until he proves he still can be a valuable NFL offensive lineman.

Raiders safety Johnathan Abram easily seen, heard in first-team work

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Raiders safety Johnathan Abram easily seen, heard in first-team work

ALAMEDA – Safety Johnathan Abram started the Raiders' offseason program working with lower units, as rookies often do. It seemed only a matter of time before the No. 27 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft found his way onto the top squad, as he was during a Tuesday OTA session open to the media.

Abram worked with 2016 first-round pick Karl Joseph in the back, a place given to Erik Harris in recent weeks. There’s a long way to go before solidifying lineups, but those two could well be the primary safeties with coaches focusing Lamarcus Joyner on slot cornerback.

The Raiders love Abram and have for some time, which is why the prestigious No. 24 jersey was given to him as a rookie.

“He has big expectations, big shoes to fill,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said after Tuesday’s OTA session. “Hopefully he can do that.”

Abram can be seen and heard well on the practice field, an aggressive and confident player unafraid to play at this level. The Raiders need that from their young players, who will play major roles in 2019.

“(Abram), I’m always going back and forth a lot. He likes to talk, and I love it,” linebacker Tahir Whitehead said. “He’s a young guy coming in showing how confident he is. I love that. We can build off of that. We need more guys with belief in their skill set and bringing that attitude to the entire team. That’s going to take us a long way.”

Joyner playing a lot in the slot

Joyner primarily played free safety last year with the L.A. Rams, but he has extensive experience playing slot cornerback. It’s certainly possible that he could consistently move back and forth – Raiders coaches love experimenting with lineups during the offseason program – but he has primarily played cornerback in OTA session open to the press.

Guenther believes Joyner can be a real asset there.

“I was always impressed with him at the nickel spot,” Guenther said. “When he was available for us to go in there as a cover guy who can understand the run fits and become a blitzer, it was great. He’s vocal guy, a leader and a great guy to have on the team all-around. He’s a perfect fit for me for the nickel spot, and that’s what he has been working on.”

Raiders vertical game looking strong

Raiders receivers repeatedly tested and bested cornerbacks deep on Tuesday, especially with newcomers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams.

They connected on two of three chances in one particular 7-on-7 drill, with Nathan Peterman finding Antonio Brown open downfield versus Daryl Worley. Derek Carr caught Tyrell Williams in stride after he beat Nevin Lawson.

Brown set the tone getting several step separation on Worley with pure speed, but Carr just overthrew him downfield. Brown and Williams are both vertical threats, which should allow the Raiders to go yard a bit more using Derek Carr’s arm strength to create big plays.

Who’s in, who’s out

Brandon Marshall hasn’t yet participated in three OTA sessions open to the press. That included Tuesday’s practice, where he was seen working with a strength coach in the team’s performance center. It’s uncertain exactly why Marshall is missing out, though injury’s the overwhelming favorite to keep a famously hard worker away from the field.

He wasn’t the only Raider missing on Tuesday. Right tackle Trent Brown wasn’t seen at the workout, and Denzelle Good was missing for a second straight session.

Brandon Parker took Brown’s spot on the first team, and Richie Incognito continued to man the left guard spot.

Rookie cornerback Isaiah Johnson wasn’t working. Neither were sophomore defensive linemen Arden Key and P.J. Hall.

Clelin Ferrell worked with the first unit on Tuesday with Key out. The No. 4 overall pick is expected to be a three-down player in his first NFL season.

[RELATED: Hurst, Key and Hall key to improving Raiders' pass rush]

This ‘n that

Rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby showed quickness and pass-rush ability on Tuesday, including one pass batted when he was well into the backfield battling left tackle Kolton Miller. “He’s a Cadillac coming off the edge,” Guenther said. “He’s long and loose and quick off the ball. I think he’s going to make big jumps in his first year.” … Fellow rookie end Quinton Bell’s speed jumps out in OTAs, though blockers at the line can swallow him up. That’s to be expected somewhat from a developmental prospect off the edge. … Peterman was the second-unit quarterback, with Mike Glennon behind him on Tuesday. Carr made several good throws but there were a few he’d surely like back in this offseason session. … Linebacker Tahir Whitehead had an interception fall into his hands after tight end Erik Swoope bobbled a pass. Linebacker Nicholas Morrow extended well to break up a pass intended for Antonio Brown in the end zone during a red-zone drill. The first-unit offense failed to score on the top defensive in that session. … Benson Mayowa had a strong day creating pressure against young offensive linemen.

Trent Brown comfortable in Raiders' decision to play him at right tackle

Trent Brown comfortable in Raiders' decision to play him at right tackle

Trent Brown got paid left-tackle money, a premium generally afforded to those protecting a quarterback’s blind side. Stability’s vital to that gig, where the best offensive tackles generally play.

The Raiders bucked the long-standing tradition, paying Brown a record contract to play on the right side.

That was tough for some to grasp before Raiders head coach Jon Gruden confirmed the decision recently.

Brown has played both sides of the line, on the right for years with the 49ers and left last season following a trade to New England. His Patriots tenure, especially an excellent postseason performance, earned a massive four-year, $66 million deal from the Raiders with $36.25 million guaranteed.

Brown never stated a preference to remain on the left, and seemed content with the Raiders decision to send him back to the right side.

“It is what it is,” Brown said after Tuesday’s OTA session at the Raiders’ Alameda training facility. “I knew all along I was going to be placed where they needed me, and I was fine with the decision.”

The decision wasn’t all about Brown. The Raiders also wanted to keep 2018 first-round pick Kolton Miller on the left side, developing into a particular role. He plays better on the left, with mixed results playing right tackle at UCLA.

“It’s just a decision that we’ve made at this point. It’s about both of them, really. It’s about Kolton and Trent,” Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “Certainly, we had a chance to study Trent before when he was in San Francisco. We’ve seen him on both sides. We’ve had a chance to have Kolton, obviously, on the left side, so that’s where we’ve started this spring. We feel good about that move right now.”

Brown’s versatility allowed the Raiders to play to Miller’s strength, and the transition has been smooth for the high-priced veteran.

“I’m pretty much stepping right back into it, doing what I was doing,” Brown said. “[Moving to left tackle], that was more of a transition than it was coming back to right. I definitely had to get my reps in, get my work in. it took some time, but I got comfortable over there. I think I could play either side comfortably now.”

Brown has been impactful on both sides of the line. He allowed just 39 total pressures in 2018 protecting quarterback Tom Brady, and just three sacks allowed. He allowed the exact number of pressures from the right side in 2016, his last full season with San Francisco, with six sacks in that total. His run blocking has been solid the last few years, showing surprising agility for someone who can block out the sun.

Brown is massive at 6-foot-8, 380 pounds and has been a plug-and-play free-agent acquisition. Brown credits right guard Gabe Jackson with helping him adjust, and those two could form an formidable force if they build proper chemistry this offseason.

Brown will have his hands full despite playing on a traditionally less prestigious side of the line. More top edge rushers are positioned to play the right tackle, including Denver’s Von Miller and the L.A. Chargers’ Melvin Ingram within the division. Kansas City’s Frank Clark will rotate back and forth, meaning he’ll face Brown roughly half the time.

The Raiders struggled protecting both edges last season starting Miller and 2018 third-round pick Brandon Parker as rookies.

[RELATED: Miller promises to 'be better' after rocky rookie season]

Having stability on the right, with high hopes for Miller on the left, should help the Raiders protect far better than last year.

“Pass rushers now around the league, there’s pass rushers on either side,” Brown said. “So you have to have pretty much a good tackle on both sides.”