2014 Topps Rookie Premiere Preview is Quite Underwhelming

Every once in a while, a company comes out with a product that makes you scratch your head. Either the product line doesnt seem to be that interesting, or the design is just completely awful. Recent football cards have been all over the place, to tell you all the truth. Although Panini tends to be very familiar with this market space of poorly conceived sets, its rare that Topps’ football team enters this territory. NFL Rookie Premiere is not one of those products.

Topps has had rookie premiere autographs for over a decade in their flagship product, but never a full set:

2007 Topps Adrian Peterson Rookie Premiere Auto

2008 Topps Joe Flacco Rookie Premiere Auto

2012 Topps Nick Foles Rookie Premiere Auto Red Ink /10

2010 Topps Sam Bradford Rookie Premiere Auto

The rookie premiere was so popular, it was even extended out to the NBA and NHL as well:

2008 Topps Russell Westbrook Rookie Premiere Auto

Im sure there are people out there who dont even know what the Rookie Premiere is, which Ill do my best to explain. Each year, the NFLPA gathers the rookies in Los Angeles to take pictures for the first time with their uniforms on. 35-40 top rookies come each year, and it is a VERY big deal. Over the last 10-12 years, it has also become about signing a shit ton of autographs and having the rookies wear hundreds of jerseys to be cut up over the course of the card year. Both companies participate and both companies do it relatively the same way. This set is celebrating that event, which ill get to in a second.

After seeing the preview today, Im pretty baffled by the choice to put this set out. Although, I know the 20th anniversary of the photo shoot was this year, I dont know how many collectors will identify with the photo shoot theme for a product. They may be familiar with the result of the premiere spread across all sets for the year, but not the event itself. This set may have been better suited as a deliverable right around the time inception comes out, especially as a photo shoot themed release. Instead, we are getting this in November, which doesnt seem to really fit much of anything. Even worse is that it looks to be all sticker autos, which means we all have even less of a reason to buy it.

Do the cards look all that awful? Not really, they arent that bad. However, the product itself isnt unique or special in any way, and though a lower price point exists for it, I see it more of a poor choice of themes than anything else. By November, we will have already had some really nice sets from Topps, and this just doesnt fit right.

Topps is not going to like how this product performs, just from the reaction I am seeing. A lot of people just dont know what to do with it.

2014 NFL Rookies Worth Chasing – Not Named Johnny Manziel

If you havent seen how collectors are reacting to Johnny Manziel, you should do yourself a favor and take a look. He is single handedly commanding case cost worthy prices in a lot of situations, and that is a very good thing. His cards are regularly becoming the focus of a lot of collections, but he isnt the only player worth chasing this year.

Check these out:

2014 Bowman Johnny Manziel NFL Uniform Auto RC

2014 Bowman Johnny Manziel Red Refractor Auto /25

2014 SPX Johnny Manziel Auto Jumbo Relic /125

2014 UD Premier Johnny Manziel Quad Patch Auto

All that being said, this hobby is all about QBs, WRs, and Running Backs. A few times you have guys like Jadeveon Clowney that will command some big bucks, but outside of that rare gem, its all the big three positions. Take a look at my target list.

Quarterbacks

Outside of Manziel, there are a few guys I would check out. Obviously Bortles and Bridgewater are targets, and they both should see time on the field early on in the season. Bortles has a very difficult situation in Jacksonville with so few weapons on the offensive side of the ball, and Bridgewater may not start from week 1. I would actually take a gander at Derek Carr, who will likely start in Oakland, and is flying under the radar right now. Tom Savage isnt a bad look either, as Ryan Fitzpatrick is NOT a long term solution to the things ailing Houston’s offense right now.

2013 Exquisite Teddy Bridgewater Auto RC

2014 Bowman Teddy Bridgewater Orange Refractor Auto /50

2014 UD Premier Blake Bortles Quad Patch Auto

2014 Hot Rookies Derek Carr RC Auto

Running Backs

Even though the NFL is moving away from the workhorse back, guys like Bishop Sankey are really intriguing. Sankey has a pretty good team around him, but his receivers arent elite. There will be a focus on the running game, and Tennessee’s line isnt all that bad. Locker needs a great year to solidify a new contract, and should be injury free now. I also like the prospects of Carlos Hyde in San Fran, as Gore is getting older and the Niners are a smashmouth team. He will get carries, and that is always good for initial value.

2014 UD Authentics Bishop Sankey On Card Auto

2014 Bowman Carlos Hyde Mini Auto /99

2013 Exquisite Bishop Sankey Auto RC

Wide Receivers

Its been publicized that Watkins and Manuel have been lacking chemistry in Buffalo, and it shouldnt be surprising to anyone that the bills are having issues with getting that all set up. However, the real guy I would look at is Jordan Mathews in Philadelphia. Philly passes a ton, and though McCoy is a big deal, they usually will throw more often than not. Other guys like Odell Beckham, Marqise Lee and Jarvis Landry might be worth a look, but all of them will likely be the 2 or 3 receiver on their team to start. Rookie wideouts RARELY play well coming out of school, and it could just be a guy like Jared Abberdaris or Davante Adams doing well because Rodgers is throwing to them in Green Bay.

2014 Bowman Sammy Watkins Xfractor Auto /10

2014 Upper Deck Sammy Watkins Star Rookie Auto

2014 Bowman Jordan Matthews Auto Refractor RC

2014 Bowman Odell Beckham Jr Red Refractor Auto

2014 Bowman Marqise Lee Red Refractor Auto /25

So far, the top guys in the class are easily Manziel, Bridgewater and Watkins, but that all could change once the guys get on the field. Dont let pre-season sway you, and take advantage of the people who are jumping on the bandwagon during that time. If Manziel has a crazy game and throws a bunch of TDs in the pre-season, you better be selling.

2014 Bowman Inception is Back for Another Huge Year

As I mentioned earlier during the NFL Rookie Premiere, Topps Inception has become one of my favorite products of the year. Not only does it look amazing, but the cards can be quite interesting sometimes.

Last year, it made the transition to Baseball with a lot of success – its back for year two today:

2014 Bowman Inception Bryce Harper MLB Logo Patch Auto 1/1

2014 Bowman Inception Jose Abreu Auto RC

2014 Bowman Inception Tyler Austin MLB Logo Auto Patch 1.1

2014 Bowman Inception Gregory Polanco Auto Relic RC

The big draws are Kris Bryant and Jose Abreu, just like it is with every other product this year, and with new Topps Exclusive Yasiel Puig last year. Even with Chicago rookies tearing it up, the checklist actually has a lot of other really nice stuff from Buxton, Appel, and others too.

Like with football, Baseball’s big draws are the insert type autos, which go outside the normal base. I love the auto relic design this year, as the wood grain type design makes it look really cool. As for the Inception version of the Bowman cards themselves, I think the idea comes from the right place, but just the wrong set. I would have liked the regular Topps RC instead – maybe expanding out to other non-rookie players.

Inception isnt without controversy either, as Topps inexplicably added old autos from Kris Bryant. The cards were supposed to be included in a previous release of Bowman Draft, but never made it into the product. For whatever stupid reason, they thought this was the vehicle to release them. I see why they would do it, or need to do it, but I know it is going to piss off a lot of people. I am also not sure what is going to happen to his 2014 Bowman cards – although its probably not much.

I am an inception fan, and would be busting through cases of this if I were a true Baseball fan. Instead I am just sitting back and watching the great pulls come through.

2014 SPX: Building on a Legacy With A Solid Year

A midst all the hype surrounding the release of Bowman and Hot Rookies, not much has been said about SPX, which may actually be the best looking of the three products due to being fully licensed by the NCAA. As a fan of UD’s stuff, im impressed for sure.

Here are some of the big hits posted so far:

2014 SPX Johnny Manziel Auto Relic RC

2014 SPX Andrew Luck Auto Super Scripts

2014 SPX Jerry Rice Premier Auto Quad Relic

2014 SPX Blake Bortles Blue Auto Patch With Inscription

During 2012, SPX had been demoted to a subset within the release of SP Authentic, functioning much like UD premier is within this year’s product. I think the design of the cards continues to be nice for a product that I have liked for a very long time.

The issue is two fold, both of which are on the plate of Upper Deck to fix. The first has to do with the quality of the jersey swatches used within the cards. Since UD has switched to NCAA cards full time, they have yet to use any patches that are actually sewn on. Even though the company line is that the sewn jerseys are unavailable, but I fail to believe that is the case.

Additionally, the cards are all stickers, which continues to baffle me. Considering how far in advance the cards can be built, I cannot see why these would be stickers. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations, but its the one way that Leaf continues to separate themselves. Again, as soon as these athletes sign with agents, they become eligible to be signed to deals. At that point, the cards should be built and ready for signing. Instead, we see the result, and that isnt good enough.

I will give them a ton of credit for at least adding inscriptions to a few of the stickers, which helps a ton:

2014 SPX Derek Carr Blue Auto Patch With Inscription

2014 SPX Bishop Sankey Blue Auto Patch With Inscription

2014 SPX Aaron Murray Blue Auto Patch With Inscription

SPX has been around for decades, and its time for it to be brought back to glory. Upper Deck continues to show that they have the chops to design the best cards to compete with the likes of Topps, and that is saying something. However, they are still without a license from MLB, NFL or NBA, which are the 3 biggest sports in the game.

Its too bad, because I would be first in line to be buying UD products again the second they had a league license.

The True Measure of Manziel Mania Starts Today!

We all know I am not a fan of Sir Johnny of Football, but that’s not the majority opinion if you look at his stuff so far. People really seem to be convinced that he is going to set the NFL on fire, and that is a very good thing for the hobby.

His first licensed autos are starting to pop up, and you can see that there is a lot of reason why we should all be excited for 2014.

2014 Bowman Johnny Manziel Orange Refractor Auto /50

2014 Bowman Johnny Manziel Blue Refractor Auto /99

2014 Bowman Johnny Manziel Mini Auto RC /99

2014 Hot Rookies Johnny Manziel Blue Foil Auto /25

In 2013 Exquisite, his cards are being sold for a crazy amount as well, which only goes to show that the questions about his ability dont necessarily extend into collecting and buying his cards. Everyone just wants a piece of Johnny Manziel, and it really should be no surprise.

In fact, many of the other rookies are also selling quite well:

2014 Bowman Chrome Sammy Watkins Auto Refractor Base

2014 Bowman Teddy Bridgewater Blue Refractor Auto /99

2014 Bowman Chrome Blake Bortles Auto Refractor Base

The question becomes more focused on what happens when he eventually starts and either plays well or plays horribly, and if a mediocre start to the season will have any impact on his 2014 cards. The media frenzy already is generating a tidal wave of pressure on the Browns to start him in week one, and I hope he proves me wrong.

Love him or hate him, the better Manziel does, the better the cards will do. That is good news for collectors who just endured one of the worst card seasons in history.

I was lucky enough to bust a box of Bowman – and needless to say, I was happy to pull my very own. It hit ebay minutes later, and sold quite fast. Happy hunting everyone!

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