Today’s release of Madden NFL 23 rightfully honors the late, great commentator and Oakland Raiders’ head coach, John Madden, who passed away December 28, 2021, at the age of 85, and is the namesake of the EA Sports NFL videogame series, featuring the legendary figure on the game’s cover. However, there are a few active NFL legends and big-name stars who have, surprisingly, never been featured as Madden cover athletes. This list will rank and discuss some of NFL’s best active players with legacies that make them deserving of a Madden cover appearance.
17. Trent Williams OT, San Francisco 49ers
Since entering the NFL, in 2010, Trent Williams has earned nine Pro Bowl selections in 12 seasons, the most among the NFL’s offensive linemen. While, an offensive lineman has never appeared on the cover, and neither has a San Francisco 49er for that matter, Williams is clearly the most deserving offensive big-man.
16. Myles Garrett DE, Cleveland Browns
The former first overall pick for the Browns in 2017 has been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks, recording 58.5 sacks in just five seasons. While his controversial fight against the Steelers might forever disqualify him from Madden cover stardom, Garrett is one of the best edge rushers in the NFL and should be put under consideration to be the first defensive lineman ever featured on a Madden Cover.
15. Ezekiel Elliott RB, Dallas Cowboys
While Madden’s history has featured a litany of superstar running backs, the two-time league-leading rusher Elliott has not made his way onto a Madden cover yet. If he was chosen, he would become the first cover running back since Barry Sanders in Madden NFL 25 (technically Madden 14), and the first Dallas Cowboy.
14. Jalen Ramsey CB, Los Angeles Rams
During his time with the Rams and Jaguars, Jalen Ramsey developed into one of the league’s most recognizable shutdown cornerbacks. While Richard Sherman is the only player at the Rams’ star’s position to be featured on a Madden cover, Ramsey shares Sherman’s penchant for trash-talking, clearly making him a player worth considering.
13. Patrick Peterson CB, Minnesota Vikings
While Peterson’s best years are likely behind him, the electrifying cornerback who earned eight Pro Bowl selections with the Arizona Cardinals has the best legacy among all active cornerbacks that never appeared on a Madden cover.
12. Davante Adams WR, Las Vegas Raiders
After eight incredible seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Davante Adams is now a Las Vegas Raider. If he is ever selected for Madden Cover glory, Adams would become the first player of the Silver and Black to be featured, and the fifth wide receiver overall.
11. Travis Kelce TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce is the best tight end in the NFL hands down, with six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to go along with his seven Pro Bowl selections. However, the recently retired Rob Gronkowski is the only tight end to ever be featured on the game franchise’s cover.
10. Bobby Wagner LB, Los Angeles Rams
Eight Pro Bowl Selections, Eight All-Pro selections, but zero Madden Covers. Bobby Wagner was the quintessential inside linebacker of the NFL for more than a decade with the Seattle Seahawks but now has joined the division rival Los Angeles Rams after being released by his former team. Wagner could become the second linebacker in NFL history featured on the Madden Cover, as only Ravens’ great Ray Lewis has earned the honor so far.
9. Tyreek Hill WR, Miami Dolphins
In six seasons, “Cheetah” earned six Pro Bowl selections with the Kansas City Chiefs as a wide receiver and return specialist, becoming the most electrifying player in the NFL. After being traded to the Miami Dolphins prior to the 2022 season, Hill deserves to become the first Dolphin ever featured on a Madden cover.
8. Cooper Kupp WR, Los Angeles Rams
The defending Super Bowl MVP and Offensive Player of the Year had one of the great seasons at his position in NFL history hauling in 145 receptions for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. Kupp has developed into the NFL’s best receiver, making him undeniably worthy of a Madden cover.
7. Julio Jones WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Julio Jones currently ranks 17th all-time in receiving yards in NFL history, the leader among active players. In his prime with the Atlanta Falcons, he was one of the NFL’s most recognizable offensive stars, twice leading the league in receiving yards to go along with seven Pro Bowl selections. He is the most deserving active wide receiver to have never made an appearance on a Madden cover.
6. The Watt Brothers – J.J. and T.J. Watt, Arizona Cardinals DE and Pittsburgh Steelers LB
It would be a great opportunity for Madden to include both Watt Brothers on a Madden Cover with the elder Watt, J.J., and his younger brother/defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. The Watt brothers have combined for four Defensive Player of the Year honors and nine Pro Bowls.
5. Derrick Henry RB, Tennessee Titans
In a pass-heavy era, Derrick Henry, the two-time NFL rushing yards champion and 2020 Offensive Player of the Year deserves recognition on a Madden cover. King Henry’s tackle-breaking trucking and stiff-arming skills make him the best contender among active running backs to join Eddie George and Vince Young as the third Tennessee Titan to be featured on a Madden cover, and the sixth at the halfback position overall in Madden history.
4. Russell Wilson QB, Denver Broncos
After a Super Bowl win in 2013, and nine Pro Bowl selections with the Seattle Seahawks, quarterback Russell Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos prior to the 2022 season. He is one of the biggest-name active quarterbacks in the NFL, and well-deserving of a Madden cover, which would make him the first Denver Bronco to ever appear on the case of EA Sports’ videogame franchise.
3. Aaron Donald DT, Los Angeles Rams
One of the greatest, if not the greatest interior defensive lineman in NFL history, Aaron Donald has picked up three Defensive Player of the Year Awards, seven first-team All-Pro selections, and a Super Bowl ring in just eight NFL seasons. While Donald has reportedly mulled retirement recently, EA Sports should make an effort to get him on a Madden cover as soon as possible, since Donald is a perfect choice to be the first defensive lineman in Madden cover history.
2. Von Miller LB, Buffalo Bills
Von Miller slightly edges Donald as being the best active defensive player who has never appeared on a Madden cover because he is the all-time sack leader in Super Bowl history, with a Super Bowl MVP award, and two championship rings. Miller developed his notoriety as a Denver Bronco but is now a Buffalo Bill after a short stint on the Super Bowl Champion LA Rams in 2021. The twelfth-year linebacker Miller would be the first Buffalo Bill ever featured on a Madden cover if he is chosen.
1. Aaron Rodgers QB, Green Bay Packers
While a controversial off-the-field personality, there is no denying Rodgers’ credentials as the best active player who has never been on the cover of Madden. Four league MVP Awards, ten Pro Bowl selections, and a Super Bowl MVP leave no doubt about his talent. As Rodgers enters into his 18th NFL season, it seems increasingly unlikely that the Packers’ all-time passing touchdowns leader will ever achieve Madden cover immortality, despite his future Hall of Fame bust in Canton, Ohio.