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Madden 21 cover vote: Lamar Jackson and nine other contenders ranked

(Image credit: EA)

Lamar Jackson is the Madden 21 cover vote winner. Although these days it isn't much of a cover vote: instead publisher EA selects its front-person based on previous-season performances, and in that sense Jackson's Madden 21 box-front is hugely deserved. You can see him confirm the news in the video below. But who did he beat out for the honour? Here we profile the top-ten most likely candidates, to form your Madden 21 cover vote guide. 

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10. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)

(Image credit: EA)

It’s traditional that we pay lip service to the Detroit Lions in our Madden cover vote preview, as they boast more packaging appearances than any other NFL team. Barry Sanders fronted Madden 2000 and the last-gen versions of Madden 25, while Calvin Johnson was the main man for Madden 13. But while traditions are important, Matt Stafford just wasn't likely to shift copies in the same way as some of the QB options we’ll get to shortly…

9. Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders)

(Image credit: EA)

New beginnings are afoot for the Raiders as life in Las Vegas gets underway, bringing an end to 60 memorable, and often controversial, years in California. A Las Vegas player on the cover wasn't outlandish thinking – after all, the Raiders’ most famous coach of all is the very man its series is named for. Thunder-shouldered running back Jacobs was the obvious choice.

8. Tom Brady (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

(Image credit: EA)

For new eras on the west coast, read new eras on the east coast. New England legend Tom Brady Patriots enters his age-43 season in a uniform different to that in which he scored six Super Bowl rings, and the sight of him wearing another team’s colours still doesn’t feel real. That’s exactly the sort of fantasy football that could have tempted EA into granting terrific Tom his second Madden cover in four years.

7. Sean Taylor (Washington Redskins)

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This is a tale of unfathomable tragedy. Sean Taylor was senselessly murdered in his own home during a 2007 burglary, aged just 24 – having already established himself as an elite safety for the Washington Redskins. A section of fans started a petition to get him on the cover of Madden 21, in order to raise funds for the Sean Taylor Memorial Trust Fund. It’s an unconventional but heart-warming idea.

6. Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)

(Image credit: EA)

As a rule, EA doesn’t offer anyone consecutive covers. That deemed cannon-armed, rocket-legged Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes out of the running. Thing is, the Chiefs’ real-life cheat player has spent his two years as a starter tearing up conventions – so being the first pro to claim two Madden covers in a row would've been in keeping with his other feats.

5. Nick Bosa (San Francisco 49ers)

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Two of Mahomes' Super Bowl opponents looked like intriguing possibilities. 49ers’ 2019 first-rounder Nick Bosa obliterated expectations in his first season, notching nine sacks en route to Rookie Of The Year honours. He’d be the first defensive player to grace the cover since team-mate Richard Sherman – then a Seattle Seahawk – did so for Madden 15.

4. George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers)

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Two consecutive 1000-yard, five-TD seasons made Kittle a fantasy-football favourite, and his charismatic ways saw him fill the tight-end entertainment void created by Rob Gronkowski’s retirement. Though after a spell in wrestling, Gronk has since resurfaced in Tampa Bay. If Kittle misses the Madden 22 cover, there’s always WWE 2K29.

3. Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints)

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Ten years since Drew Brees became the first (and still only) New Orleans Saint to front Madden, his main wide receiver stood a great chance of capping the anniversary with some box-art of his own. Michael Thomas smashed the record for most receptions in a single season with 149 last year, and also holds the award for most receptions by a player through his first four seasons – with an astonishing 470.

2. Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers)

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Running backs have endured an eight-year drought in the cover department, with then-Viking Adrian Peterson helming the bizarrely named Madden 25 on PS4 and Xbox One. Christian McCaffrey’s mix of power, intelligence and evasiveness make him a worthy successor to AP, with his first three seasons boasting 5,400 all-purpose yards and 39 touchdowns. He’ll be beastly in Madden 21 even without a personalised box.

1. Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)

(Image credit: EA)

Pat Mahomes’ Super Bowl heroics make it easy to forget that he was outplayed in the regular season by one man: newly anointed Baltimore Ravens talisman Lamar Jackson. The Louisville graduate stepped into Joe Flacco’s old job and proved an immediate upgrade, throwing for 36 TDs and adding seven more on the ground, and breaking Michael Vick’s seasonal record for rushing yards along the way. A unanimous NFL MVP award, and bunch of skills which translate perfectly to gaming, secured him the Madden 21 cover.

I'm GamesRadar+'s sports editor, obsessed with NFL, WWE, MLB – and very occasionally things that don't have a three-letter acronym. Namely: Bill Bryson, Pitch Perfect, and the Streets Of Rage series. I have two kids who aren't quite old enough to play Madden yet. Soon, though…