When it comes to finding success in the National Football League and in Connected Franchise Mode in Madden NFL 25, there are two main paths you can follow to build a winning team: signing a key, proven free agent to slot in immediately, or building a team around a young, developing player found in the draft. This week I’ll be taking a look at the best players to bring in who will provide quick results, as well as the best players to build a franchise around. Today’s article focuses on the second group; I’ve selected one player at the quarterback, running back, receiver, “front seven” defense, and defensive secondary positions to compile my Top 5 Players to Build a Franchise Around in Madden NFL 25. Note that youth is a consideration for this list, and I’m looking for players with three years or fewer of NFL experience.
1.) Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
After the 2013 NFL Draft and its questionable quarterbacks, the 2012 Draft and its signal-callers seems even more impressive. As promising a future as #1 Overall Pick Andrew Luck has ahead of him with the Indianapolis Colts, my choice here came down to the #2 pick, Robert Griffin III of Washington, or the third round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson out of Wisconsin. Both rookies finished their first NFL season with Quarterback Ratings over 100.0; only 2.4 points separated the two players, in RGIII’s favor. Although the Redskins quarterback nearly doubled up Wilson in rushing yards, I opted to go with the Seahawks star here due to his 30 combined touchdowns (26 passing, 4 rushing) along with a 3 touchdown passes and a touchdown rush over a playoff victory over the Redskins and a near-win on the road in the Divisional Round against the Atlanta Falcons. Doubt this “undersized” quarterback at your own peril; use him as a young cornerstone for your Connected Franchise Mode team in Madden NFL 25 and the sky is the limit!
2.) Running Back: Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
When Alfred Morris was drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Florida Atlantic, there can’t have been too many people who expected that he would end up in second place in the NFL in rushing yards in his rookie season. Not only did Morris accomplish that feat with 1,613 yards rushing on the season, he also joined Adrian Peterson as the only running backs to average over 100 yards per game. Still need more stats to justify this pick? Try 83 rushes for a first down, again second only to Peterson. While Morris might not have been the most celebrated rookie for the Redskins last season, he was certainly a key part to their success and a great piece to build around when you’re starting up a Connected Franchise in Madden NFL 25. Can you help Morris “Run Free” to a rushing title in his second season?
3.) Receiver: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Compared to Russell Wilson and Alfred Morris, expectations for Julio Jones were much higher when the Falcons drafted him 6th Overall in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Alabama. After nearly topping 1,000 yards receiving and bringing down 8 scoring catches in his rookie campaign, Jones gained 1,198 through the air last season while hauling in 10 touchdowns. Even more impressive was Jones’ postseason performance, gaining 241 yards over two games with 2 touchdowns for Atlanta as they nearly fought their way to Super Bowl XLVII. At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Jones has more than enough size to have continued success as a receiver in the NFL; can you build a Connected Franchise Mode team around him in Madden NFL 25?
4.) “Front Seven” Defender: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
Playing for a Carolina team that finished under .500 on the season can make it difficult to stand out; that makes it all the more impressive that linebacker Luke Kuechly was able to take home the Defensive Rookie of the Year award from both the AP and from Pro Football Weekly. Of course, tallying 164 total tackles (103 solo and 61 assists) to lead the league as a first-year player can certainly help that. Kuechly also managed 8 passes defended and 2 interceptions while recovering 3 fumbles on the season, wrapping up a campaign that saw the Panthers rank in the top half of the league in opposing passing yards and rushing yards per game. The Boston College product was the 9th Overall pick by the Panthers in the 2012 NFL Draft, so expectations were high; that he was able to meet them so far made him an easy selection at this position as a defensive player you could build a Connected Franchise around in Madden NFL 25.
5.) Secondary Defender: Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
As the 5th Overall Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson was expected to contribute immediately for the Arizona Cardinals, both in the defensive secondary as well as in the special teams return game. Peterson showed that he was up to the task, setting records for the most punt return yards by a rookie in a season (699 yards) as well as the most punt return touchdowns in a season by any player (4) in his rookie year. He also set a NFL record by returning a punt 99 yards for a game-winning touchdown in overtime in 2011, the longest such play in league history. With Pro Bowl selections in his first two seasons, Peterson’s return efforts didn’t yield any points in his sophomore season but he increased his interception tally from 2 in his rookie year to 7 in the 2012-2013 season. The dynamic talents exhibited by this 22-year-old player in multiple phases of the game make him a strong candidate to build a team around in Madden NFL 25.
Those are my picks for the Top 5 Players to Build a Franchise Around in Madden NFL 25; who would you choose in these five positional categories? Weigh in at our Community Forums here at Under The Code!