On July 15th, 2019, EA Sports released the Madden 20 player ratings. So far, some athletes believe they are respected while others have some things to prove on the field. Out of all these NFL players, four game-changing superstars headline the famous 99 Club.
The 99 Club is a group of players who are rated at 99 overall on a scale of 1-99. These players may not be cover athlete material, but they are franchise players that are the best at their position.
The four players that entered the club are Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner. These players each dominate their side of the field. This article will prove why they are 99 overall players. We’ll first look at the monstrous Mack.
Mack is the first of the four in the 99 Club. After being traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Chicago Bears, Mack revolutionized the Bears’ defense. Mack is striving for a G.O.A.T. career while bringing back the infamous Bears’ defensive legacy.
In 14 games, Mack totaled 12.5 sacks, four passes defended, and one interception. His speed, strength, and IQ combination caused him to be a legit weapon in the NFL.
In this clip, Mack utilizes all three of his traits. Mack is playing left outside linebacker in a 3-4 front look. He jumps off the snap to attack the outside shoulder of the right tackle. Once he attacks and opens the tackle’s shoulders, Mack plants hard and strikes the tackle’s inside shoulder.
He begins to bullrush the tackle until he notices the quarterback’s eyes. Once Mack sees the running back is behind him and it is a screen play, he falls back into coverage. Mack watches the quarterback’s eyes until the ball is released. He tracked it down then utilizes his speed and strength to power through for a touchdown.
Mack was dangerous in 1-on-1 situations, but he also found ways to flourish against double teams too.
Mack’s awareness comes in at a perfect 99 overall. This play represents why Madden would respect his awareness and intelligence.
In this clip, Mack is lined up outside of the right tackle in a two-point stance. The Bears are sending a corner blitz. Mack and the inside linebacker will stunt too. This means they will switch spots as Mack will rush toward the right guard and the inside linebacker attacks the right tackle.
Off the snap, Mack crashes the A-gap and causes the right tackle and guard to follow him. Mack notices this and pins both of the linemen together for as long as possible. By the time the corner comes in, the right tackle got held up too long, and the corner finished the play with a sack.
Besides Mack’s awareness, Madden gave Mack an 87+ rating in 15 other categories. Some of these categories include block shedding, finesse moves, power moves, and stamina.
These all come into play as Mack has been able to show us he can bullrush, take on double teams, and drop into coverage too.
NFL’s AP Defensive Player of the Year and Deacon Jones award winner capped off his impressive season with a 99 overall. The defensive menace is number two of four in the 99 Club in Madden 20.
He proves he is a man amongst boys as he finished with an NFL-leading 20.5 sacks in the 2018-2019 season. That may sound amazing, but there is more to it. Donald was double-teamed about 70% of the time. The next closest player is J.J. Watt, who was double-teamed around 46% of the time.
Donald’s strength and determination in these next few clips show why he is in Madden’s 99 Club.
Donald starts the play in a three-technique blocking the B-gap. Right when the quarterback receives the ball, Donald uses his momentum and quickness to fly past the guard. He capitalizes on the right guard’s pad level and slowness, so he swims over the lineman and cuts hard to stop the run behind the line of scrimmage.
Donald finished the season with 25 tackles for a loss and 59 tackles. Donald seemed to be in the backfield within 2-3 seconds nearly every play. This next clip, he forces his way into the backfield.
Donald was rated a 99 overall in the strength category, and this clip shows why he deserves this high-caliber rating. First of all, Donald starts in a four technique. He lines up in the B-gap but attacks the A-gap.
Once the ball is snapped, Donald crashes down while the center takes on the challenge. He powers through the center and uses his momentum to drive the center into the quarterback. Donald’s capability to break off the line and shoot his arms into the center’s shoulder pads before he can be set allows this huge stop to occur.
Not only is Donald a wrecking force, but he is also an athletic speedster too. Out of 91 right ends rated in Madden, Donald tied for the 12th fastest speed rating with an 83 overall. After all, he has a 99 in strength and is double-teamed nearly 3/4ths of the time. Donald low center of gravity and explosiveness off of a 3-point stance pushes him in the backfield in seconds.
In the clip above, Donald is lined up inside the right tackle. The right tackle intends to block down toward the linebacker or nose tackle at first. But, with Donald’s speed, he must try to chip block Donald so that the fullback can reach the 99 Club member. He failed to block Donald as he skirmishes through and rips through the fullback for the sack.
Although the video is 11 seconds long, about three seconds of that time is the actual play where Donald sheds two blocks and makes a sack at least 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
The third member of the 99 Club is “Nuk.” Nuk has fought hard for 99 overall in six categories and one 98 grade in another. We will look at what makes him a 99 overall in these categories.
In this clip, we see why Hopkins earned a 99 overall in catch in traffic and release. The Tennessee Titans are running a Cover 2 zone against the Texans. Hopkins is on the top of the screen with the corner 7-8 yards off of him. Hopkins’ route is a curl route right in front of the corner.
Hopkins makes it look like a streak, so the corner freezes before he drops his hips to comeback. Once he comes back, he boxes the corner out from making a play like a basketball player trying to get a rebound. Hopkins boxes out the corner while staying in a position, so he doesn’t fall in the linebacker’s hook curl zone. The catch in the traffic earned the Texans a decent gain and Hopkins a high rating.
Most of Hopkins’ routes were dig routes, out routes or curls/comebacks. He was dealt these routes with subpar quarterbacks most of his career and still posted numbers. Nuk also debatably has the best hands in the NFL too.
This may be a tough angle to see, but Hopkins has a 1-on-1 matchup. He is running a 9 or streak with several plants to create space between him and the cornerback. This play represents his other 99 overall ratings (catching, jumping, spectacular catching, and release). The 99 Club member has proven for years now that he can turn nothing into something across the middle or on the sideline.
Wagner has been a highly rated silent assassin in Madden every year. Despite being one of the best linebackers in the league for a few years now, the linebacker finally reached the 99 Club. Wagner reached the club after proving his 99 awareness, 88 speed, and 99 tackling.
This clip represents Wagner’s determination when it comes to tackling. After San Francisco had already gained several yards and was nearing the goal line, the Seahawks start watching the play end.
Instead of watching, Wagner forces himself into the pile and makes the tackle. Not only does he make the tackle, but he keeps the play alive with a strip. He gets up then continues to punish 49ers players by running the ball back for a few yards, not willing to go down easily.
Wagner finished the season with 138 tackles, one forced fumble, and 11 passes defended. He also returned his only interception for a 98-yard touchdown.
In this clip, Wagner is in a hook curl that is illustrated as the yellow box. Wagner notices the quarterback is reading the defense. Wagner steps up and reads the quarterback’s eyes with the blue vision triangle. When the quarterback steps up to throw the check down throw, Wagner jumps the pass and turns on the jets. Once he breaks outside, he takes it for six in a blowout win for the Seahawks.
If you are a Madden fanatic, these four players are strong candidates that deserved the 99 Club membership. Whether or not you play Ultimate Team or Franchise, these players are 99 overalls for a reason. They may not be a 2004 Michael Vick, but these are four game-changing athletes that can create havoc for opponents.
Nick Zeller-Singh is a writer for the Pro Football Network covering the PFN Film Room. You can follow him @zickster21 on Twitter.