I often talk about the rookies on this site, especially their initial performance and how that relates to the “investing” we do in this hobby on a daily basis. What I dont usually do is talk about what happens to them after their rookie season is done, and acutally that is where the 2009 Rookie Class has succeeded more than most of the rookie classes that have come before them. Over the first 6 weeks of the NFL season, 2009 Rookies have become some of the biggest contributors to their team’s success, some even surprisingly so.
I would say the person who has made the most waves this year is the golden boy of last year’s class, Mark Sanchez. Last year, despite 20 interceptions, Sanchez led his team to the AFC Championship game, thus bumping his card value into the stratosphere. This year, he has truly settled in, making so few mistakes that he is actually on the verge of an NFL record. His team is debatably the best team in the league, and the Jets look primed to return to the playoffs for the second year with Sanchez at the helm. His counterpart from 2009, Matt Stafford has spent most of the year on the bench due to injury, and despite his absence, his team’s offense has played pretty well. Stafford’s card values were high to begin with because of his status as the overall #1 pick, but his performance has yet to measure up. Card collectors are still buying in because of speculative production in the future, but right now, Sanchez is the darling. Stafford is even having problems measuring up to fellow first rounder Josh Freeman, who has led Tampa Bay to a good start to this year. Freeman has already turned some heads with some great plays, and Tampa Bay is no longer the gimme win they used to be. Freeman’s cards are on the up and up thanks to his start, and I think that many of his early investors are pretty happy about that.
Similar success has come to the wide receivers of the 2009 class, with ROY Percy Harvin, Austin Collie, Hakeem Nicks and company lighting it up. Even guys like Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, and others are playing like top picks, and that is what is so surprising. In fact, Hakeem Nicks is playing so well that he is one of the only guys this year to have caught three TDs in one game and had two games of two TDs to match. Although Harvin walked away with the honors last year, Nicks was no slouch, and this year, it looks to be a very similar situation. Speaking of Harvin, he has really come into his own on the Vikings squad, being an influential player that gives nightmares to opposing coordinators. In the most recent win versus Dallas, Harvin caught some clutch passes, and had the most impactful play of the entire game, running a kick back for a score to start the second half.
Now, both Harvin and Nicks were first rounders, and that is what makes the success of Austin Collie that much more surprising. He is having as good a season as anyone, and has become a favorite target of Peyton Manning. Considering that he shares the field with Wayne and Garçon, his success becomes that much more impressive.
Oddly enough, where the WRs have succeeded, the RBs have failed. A lot of the guys who were expected to be impact superstars have turned out to be guys that rarely have anything to show for their actions. Beanie Wells, Knowshon Moreno, and Donald Brown were a trio of guys that people expected to do amazing during their freshman and sophomore seasons. So far, little has happened, and Moreno is really the only one to maintain a legit starting job. Brown has battled injuries and Wells has battled a lack of a quarterback, and all three have not had the production that people expected. It has led to some early decreases in their values among collectors, especially in the case of Donald Brown who has basically falling off the face of the earth.
As it stands right now, Sanchez’s reign as the top value guy of the class looks to be quite far from being over, and it actually makes the most sense of anything. Guys like Nicks and Collie’s values are going up each week they have a big game, and as I write this, Collie looks to be doing so for the umpteenth week in a row. Wells and company may look to be on a continued downward value swing, as expected, but their careers are far from being considered busts at this point. Actually, 2nd rounders Shonn Greene and LeSean McCoy look to be in much better situations than each of their first round competition.
All I have to say is that 2009 products are looking more and more appealing when you consider that the cards far exceed this year’s in terms of design and content. That is why it may be a better idea to check out a box of 2009 SP Authentic before diving head first into a poorly designed and poorly conceived set like 2010 Absolute. Its not a sure thing, as nothing in this hobby ever is, but at least you know that quite a few of the guys in the 2009 class are exceeding the performance they had during their great rookie seasons.