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Madden NFL 11 Early Packers Info

Summer is here, school is over (or almost over for our younger readers), and I have officially graduated from the University of Wisconsin. What does that mean for me as a Packer fan? It's time to turn my attention to video games. Naturally, that means that it's time to look forward to the Madden NFL series, which has released more and more information about the 2011 version of the game over the past few weeks. What should you, a Packers fan, be interested in out of all this? Well, I've identified some of the main points for you, so let's take a look.

Around the time of the NFL Draft, EA Sports released some new information about how it calculates the Overall ratings for Quarterbacks, as well as the list of the top 10 rated QBs in the upcoming game. (Spoiler alert: Aaron Rodgers comes in as the 4th-highest.) Present at the information session were Hall of Fame QBs Dan Marino and Joe Montana and Madden NFL 11 cover boy Drew Brees, who gave their input on the game. I won't go into detail here, but it was interesting to note that while Madden NFL weights arm strength (Throwing Power, as they call it) more heavily than decision-making (Awareness rating), the real QBs see it the other way around.

In a more recent announcement, everyone's favorite over-caffeinated sports announcer is now doing the play-by-play for this year's Madden. That's right, Gus "He's got gettin' away from the cops speed!!!!" Johnson will be announcing your gridiron conquests, so look forward to some of this and this and this in your gaming this fall

More info about rookies to come after the jump.

About a week after the draft, EA Sports released their ratings for this year's first-round draft picks, which has been followed by the ratings for the second and third rounders in recent weeks. These ratings, along with a new feature allowing fans to give their feedback on the ratings, can be found at the Madden website.

Of interest to Packers fans: Bryan Bulaga gets a 78 overall rating. This seems pretty solid compared to the other first-round tackles: Trent Williams got a 79, Russell Okung is an 82, and Anthony Davis comes in at 75 overall. Meanwhile, one Iowa fan isn't pleased with Bulaga's seemingly low Awareness rating of 61. They certainly valued Bulaga's lower-body strength highly though, giving him an Acceleration rating of 90.

On a less optimistic note, second-round DE Mike Neal earns only a 65 overall. However, EA still has him listed as a Tackle, even though he'll be an end in the Packers' 3-4 defense. Maybe the position switch will benefit his overall rating...maybe not. In either case, it brings to my mind an interesting question about switching positions in these games. The ratings don't account for the type of defense that a player is in or his role in that defense, and I'd be curious to see how a player like Brandon Graham of Philadelphia would see his ratings change if he were to move from his 4-3 DE position to a 3-4 OLB in another defense. It's just something to think about.

Safety Morgan Burnett, on the other hand, earns a rating of 70 overall, but this is almost exclusively due to his obscenely low 29 Awareness rating. His physical stats seem reasonable and promising, and with a more realistic awareness rating, he would likely be in the mid-to-high 70s. I'd like to know what specifically drove the EA people who set up these ratings to give him the third-lowest awareness rating of the first three rounds (behind only WR Taylor Price of New England and CB Myron Lewis of Tampa Bay, who tied at 28).

As for other interesting goings-on among other draft picks, I was happy to see EA agreed with me and 99% of NFL scouts in giving Tim Tebow the lowest grade among the big-name QBs with a 70. This sits behind Sam Bradford's 80, Jimmy Clausen's 76, and Colt McCoy at 72. Also amusing was Jacksonville's "WHO?!" pick at #10 overall, Tyson Alualu, earning a 69; the Bills' 2nd-rounder, DT Torrell Troup, at 57; and the first-rounder with the fastest speed rating being, not C.J. Spiller or Jahvid Best (who were tied for second at 95), but instead WR Demaryius Thomas of Denver at 96.

That's all for now. Keep posted for more information to come when all the ratings are released over the summer and we find out what EA Sports really thinks of our team.

Oh, and I almost forgot. The game is going to look like this: