Now that the BCS title game is set, in the final year of the format, I think it goes without saying that every wax breaking collector should be cheering for Jameis Winston to clean house and walk away with his first title. Even though alleged off the field issues may prevent him from realizing his true popularity, the stage is now prepared for his eventual splash in the 2015 NFL Draft and card year.
Unlike most college players in the past, Winston has had his fair share of cards already on the market. But with a soft NFL class this year, and a good potential class for 2014, Winston will hopefully meet potential to come out with Marcus Mariota and company in 2015 to drive a great year.
Other players like Todd Gurley of Georgia, and TJ Yeldon of Alabama will also be potential big money makers along the way, but Winston could end up being a tremendous prospect similar to what we saw with Luck and Griffin in 2012. To be clear, Winston doesn’t have to be your favorite player, but we should all be wanting to see him have as much success as possible. When names like Johnny Manziel and the like are in the draft, they sell very well – a la Tim Tebow in 2010. Even if they have little to no talent on an NFL level, like Tebow, they will sell because of the name on the back of their jersey. That is a VERY good thing.
If you don’t break wax, its still in everyone’s best interest that Winston wins this game. More people will open, giving player collectors more inventory to buy from. Its crazy that we have reached this point in the hobby, but this is further proof that things are changing. Cards just don’t sell like they have in previous years, regardless of the rookie class. Lets be perfectly honest in saying that there just aren’t as many buyers as there were years ago, and when the buyers do come out, they aren’t willing to spend as much on the nicer cards that are made. The hobby needs high dollar rookies like Jameis Winston to help lift the bottom line of everyone who opens the boxes.
That’s not saying that guys like Mariota wont also be a top dollar autograph, but he wont be anywhere close to Winston, unless Oregon pulls off a championship next year. There are a lot of people who aren’t sold on what he brings to the table, as he hasn’t exactly blown everyone away every week. Mariota had some great games and will be a top 5 pick in 2015 if he stays healthy, but I believe he made a mistake not coming out this year when he may have been the number one pick.
Guys like Teddy Bridgewater are also high on scouts’ lists to be the top draft pick for 2014, and like Winston he has cards on the market too. The difference is that collectors look for college affiliation as much as they do production in the beginning of the year, and FSU is one of those schools that has a huge following. Add in national stakes in the biggest game of the year, and Bridgewater isn’t on that level.
I think its pretty clear that we have 2 good years ahead of us, but without continued dedication from the card companies, the base of target consumers will continue to shrink. That is why I am so disappointed with Panini this year, as it seems as though they have decided to scale back efforts across the board, knowing that 2013 is too weak to invest in. I think it should be the opposite, as we need a better showing than we ever have. Distributors and shop owners alike have said that sales are so far down that it is making it tough to do business, and it is further exacerbated when companies trot out the same shit with no added fresh content.
Im just hoping that once 2014 comes around, both Topps and Panini have a few tricks up their sleeve. That way, when 2015 hits, we are in a great spot for a class that looks to be much stronger than it has been in the previous years.