Ask anyone who has played me in “Madden,” and they’ll all tell you the same thing: I abuse defenses with the tight end. So when EA Sports sent me the list of top 10 receivers in “Madden 13” -- a list that mixes tight ends and wide receivers, and I saw the eye-popping numbers for Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis and Rob Gronkowski -- needless to say, I already know three teams I can’t wait to play with when the game is released Aug. 28.
10. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants: 94 overall
Nicks beats out Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers by one point to nab the No. 10 position, thanks to elite ratings in toughness, spectacular catch and catch in traffic. Hit stick or not, Nicks is holding on to that ball.
9. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons: 94 overall
Not only does “Rowdy” Roddy White sport one of the top stamina ratings in the game, once he has the ball, his ability to juke defenders will help earn plenty of yards after the catch for Atlanta.
8. Wes Welker, New England Patriots: 95 overall
The highest-rated route runner in the game, Welker’s acceleration, catching, awareness, stamina, toughness and catch in traffic numbers are all 98-plus, giving Brady the best slot receiver in “Madden” (and real life).
7. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers: 95 overall
If you’re playing online this year, get ready to witness a lot of the connection between Cam Newton and Smith. Newton’s scrambling ability and strong arm make him a beast outside the pocket, while Smith’s speed, toughness and route-running ability make him one of the top outside targets in the game.
6. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: 95 overall
Graham has the jumping ability and spectacular catch rating to fight for any ball, and the speed to outrun any linebacker trying to cover him in the open field. Talk about a red-zone nightmare to defend.
5. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: 95 overall
Everyone talks about Davis’ pass-catching ability, but the dude is an absolute monster blocking for Frank Gore. Davis is one of the highest-rated impact blockers from the tight end position, as well as being Alex Smith’s most trusted target. Add Randy Moss to the mix this season (still 95 speed!), and you have “Madden” gold.
4. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: 97 overall
Whether he’s beating you deep, making the spectacular catch in traffic, or jumping back up after a vicious hit over the middle, Andre Johnson is the type of wide receiver who gives defensive coordinators nightmares.
3. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals: 97 overall
The problem with playing as Larry Fitzgerald isn’t Fitzgerald, but who’s throwing him the ball. A true “Madden” game breaker, as long as you can figure out the Arizona QB situation.
2. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: 97 overall
Gronk, Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd make up the most feared foursome of receivers in “Madden,” and could be the most unguardable unit in the game this year.
1. Calvin Johnson Jr., Detroit Lions: 99 overall
Is the “Madden” Curse for real? Megatron is about to find out. But while Lions fans hold their collective breaths, they will have a blast throwing the ball deep to the best receiver in “Madden,” and it’s not even close. Speed, agility, jumping, catching, spectacular catch, catch in traffic, stamina, toughness, spin, juke, route running and release are all top notch, giving Detroit the most exciting reason to play “Madden” since Barry Sanders was first digitized.
Don’t like the official rankings? Hit up the EA Sports Facebook page throughout the week for your chance to change the numbers. That’s right, fans will be given the ability to vote for which receivers should have the highest-rated special traits (speed, spectacular catch, route running, agility), and the winners of each vote will see their ratings increase when “Madden 13” ships August 28.