2014 Leaf Metal Draft Football is Live!

Well, the day has come – 2014 Football cards have hit the market, and for now, they are going to be a great barometer of what is going to be happening after a vast decrease in 2013. Leaf has been first to market for a few years now, and each year I have gotten more and more on board with what Brian Gray is doing with his sets. All on card, few redemptions, and some really nice designs.

Here are some big hits already up:

2014 Leaf Metal Draft Johnny Manziel Auto Red Refractor /5

2014 Leaf Metal Draft Johnny Manziel Auto Purple Refractor /25

2014 Leaf Metal Draft Blake Bortles Green Refractor Auto /10

2014 Leaf Metal Draft Teddy Bridgewater Green Refractor Auto /10

2014 Leaf Metal Draft Jadeveon Clowney Blue Refractor Auto

Although I think the Leaf Stars and the State Pride cards are horribly ugly, the rest of the set continues to be very well designed. You can tell Brian is taking more and more liberties with retouching the cards, leaving more of the uniform visible, despite not having a license to show logos. I think this year’s design is SIGNIFICANTLY better than 2013, and on par with 2012's banner year.

As for the cards themselves, it has become abundantly obvious in the last few months that Johnny Manziel will be the top guy. Not only is he a Heisman winner, but he is a polarizing figure that people love to hate, or just love. This fame leads to hobby value, and with speculation that he could go in the top 5, his cards are even hotter than ever.

The other players like Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater, and company arent necessarily on Manziel’s level, but they are already selling above where we saw 2013 start off. Its a deep class, especially on the QB and WR crop, which is ALWAYS a good thing.

Here is the thing. Despite the fact that it isnt a diluted checklist like some of the other pre-draft products are, these cards will only be hot for a VERY short time. The SECOND the first post-draft product hits the market, these will lose half their value. Based on that factor alone, the 100 dollar price tag is going to be tough to stomach. If you want to get your hands on these cards, it will be best to wait for the other products to come out. 2014 Bowman Football will likely be the first licensed product of the year, and that is coming off a HUGE year in 2013.

I really like this product in February, especially with all the hard signed autographs. The cards look great for the most part, and the Chrome stock is always a favorite.

2013 Topps Supreme: Can a Great Design Overcome a Weak Class?

Its clear that 2013 is a year that many people would like to say goodbye to. The rookie class hasnt helped sell any product, and when that happens in football, the rest of the calendar can suffer immensely. Although 2013 Topps Supreme is the best that it has ever looked, it is going to be a tough break for most of the people out there. I thought 2012 was a great looking product to begin with, and with a strong class, it wasnt as hard to get past the format of the boxes. This year's product looks that much better, but its going to be hard to get excited about a Tyler Wilson jersey card as your pack hit.

Here are some of the big hits so far:

2013 Topps Supreme Joe Montana Quad Patch Auto – Really like the look here.

2013 Topps Supreme Le'Veon Bell / Landry Jones Dual Silhouette Auto Relic Booklet

2013 Topps Supreme Eddie Lacy Jumbo Patch Auto

2013 Topps Supreme Joe Montana / Steve Young Dual Auto Patch Booklet

Now that Supreme is live, I think that the comparisons I have always drawn to Upper Deck's Ultimate Collection of 2008 and 2009 ring even more true. If you hit it big with Supreme, you can hit it BIG. The cards look so nice that the singles a player or team collector can pick up are going to far outweigh the price of admission.

My favorite cards in the product back in 2012 were the jumbo patch autos, which are back again for another year. Because the patch window isnt connected directly to the sticker window, I think the design is much more easy to follow, and looks a lot better. I wish that they werent so rare in the grand scheme of the format, but I really like the checklist for this year’s set.

The best non-autograph part of the set is the 1/1 logos, which I wasnt all that impressed with in 2012. The cards really look completely different this year, and it is a welcome change to the landscape. Adding in a better design on the letter patches and laundry tags to boot, and I have to applaud Topps for constructing things the right way.

Supreme will end up getting lost among the rest of the products at the end of the calendar, as the sticker autos are going to take things down a notch. However, this is one of those sets that really has no licensed competition in terms of the theme and focus of the finished product. If Topps were to find a way to get hard signed autographs for the vet and HOF sigs, I think my review would be much more favorable.

2013 Topps Supreme and 2013 Crown Royale are Primed for a Big Co-Release

Two big products hit the market tomorrow – one in Topps Supreme that has become a top billing for the calendar over the last 3 years, and Crown Royale, whose Silhouettes might be some of the best Panini cards of the year. Although I think Supreme is a better singles product by far, I think the Silhouettes could come across as the best in the two sets.

Not many cards are live as of today, but they should be out en masse tomorrow:

2013 Topps Supreme Andrew Luck / John Elway Dual Auto

2013 Topps Supreme Andrew Luck / EJ Manuel Dual Auto Patch Booklet /15

2013 Topps Supreme Dan Marino Auto Jersey

2013 Panini Crown Royale Eddie Lacy Silhouette Auto Patch Silver /299

2013 Panini Crown Royale Le'Veon Bell Silhouette Auto Patch

2013 Panini Crown Royale Aaron Dobson Silhouette Auto Patch

2013 Panini Crown Royale Luke Joeckel Auto RC /25

Topps released a TON of pictures on their facebook today, many of which looked quite incredible. Although I absolutely loved the way 2012 looked, they have definitely taken a step forward indeed.

Here are some of my favorites from last year:

2012 Topps Supreme Robert Griffin III Playbook Auto Booklet

2012 Topps Supreme Andrew Luck Six Piece Auto Relic Booklet

2012 Topps Supreme Nick Foles Auto Jumbo Patch 1/1

Check out the way they look this year:

1782433_10152240700559594_2046151399_o 1973251_10152240700159594_1716489860_o 1606311_10152240699819594_1841886043_o 1973447_10152240699709594_1237398379_o 1658575_10152240697114594_1852309361_o 1799883_10152240697039594_442773793_o 1780162_10152240696884594_389032742_o 1978372_10152240696149594_239357402_o 1553351_10152240696139594_2123473476_o 1900139_10152240694454594_557872504_n 1962112_10152240693019594_1874161164_o 1921029_10152240692994594_1372851382_o 1617606_10152240692944594_307927829_o 1960856_10152240692894594_1308485170_o 1902794_10152240691544594_1481055668_n 1909330_10152240689464594_417029047_o 1559265_10152240689309594_1237241648_o (1) 1957858_10152240687839594_250012528_o 1932709_10152240687609594_448047233_o 1795302_10152240683814594_618576903_o 1911101_10152240683729594_217051257_o 1606212_10152240682649594_213315851_o 1926167_10152240682484594_1981242506_o 1622483_10152240681509594_738264420_o 1973556_10152240681284594_409577212_o 1796721_10152240700479594_124171390_o 1932574_10152240697099594_1685048_o

Tomorrow is going to be a pretty awesome day if you are a buyer, im definitely going to be chasing more than a few cards from both sets.

2014 NFL Combine – My Target List of Rookies to Chase

Right now I am starving for some Football and its only been a few weeks since the end of the season. That’s how deprived I feel, and the combine is the first opportunity to get a small dose of the upcoming 2014 season. There are already claims of an extremely deep draft, and I think there are a lot of reasons to watch in anticipation. Here are the people who made a splash this past weekend in Indianapolis. With Leaf Metal coming out this week, I would aim to buy into some of the autographs from these guys.

Johnny Manziel – QB Texas A&M

After last season, I was convinced he would end up a 2nd or 3rd round pick. After this past season, he has climbed the board significantly, and actually has an outside chance of being selected number one by Houston. That would be a VERY good thing for cards this year, as Manziel will be the top value guy in the class regardless of where he is drafted. The only nightmare scenario would be him landing in Jacksonville, which would be a complete train wreck for cards. Lets all pray that doesn’t happen.

2012 Leaf Johnny Manziel Sketch Cut Auto

Johnny Manziel Signed 8 x 10 PSA Certified

Johnny Manziel Signed Baseball With Stats and Inscriptions

Jadaveon Clowney – DE South Carolina

I am not a fan of his prospects, as I don’t think the questions about his work ethic should go unanswered for a team in the top five. He is a freakish talent, no doubt, but there are some lingering issues that could pose a threat to his overall value. Its rare I would put a defensive player on a list like this, but he is definitely worth a second look as the first sets of the year come out.

Jadaveon Clowney Signed Full Sized Helmet

Jadaveon Clowney Signed Sports Illustrated – JSA cert

Blake Bortles – QB Central Florida

Talk about coming out of nowhere, this guy could be a top 10 pick after being a nobody in 2012. He has tools to be a serviceable starter, but I don’t think anyone is willing to put any high expectations on him. A lot of people have him going as high as number 5, and some as low as number 8 to the Vikings, but he may not make it past number 3 in the first round. He wont have much value coming out, as his school isn’t a powerhouse, but he could be a nice investment opportunity if he gets the starting job.

Blake Bortles Signed NFL Football

Sammy Watkins – WR Clemson

He is a burner, and proved his speed this past weekend. He looks like he could be a combination of AJ Green and Alshon Jeffery, with speed and hands to really get up there in production. I like his game, and I think he will be a top 10 pick EASY. The problem is he could end up with a team that has no QB, which would be a bad situation for any WR prospect. Lets hope that doesn’t happen.

2011 Leaf Army All American Sammy Watkins Auto

Sammy Watkins Signed Mini Helmet – JSA Cert

Michael Sam – DE/LB Missouri

I have mentioned how much value Sam will have out of the gate because of the story surrounding his circumstances, and that is a big reason why his combine was under scrutiny. He didn’t run a blazing time, which was unfortunate, but he should still project as a 3rd -5th round guy. I think everyone should be happy when they pull his card, as it will automatically be worth something off the bat.

Michael Sam Signed Mini Helmet

Mike Evans – WR Texas A&M

Some of the main attributes of Mike Evans are more about his catch skills than his speed, but he ran quite a good time at the combine. Enough to get people excited about his prospects. Lots of teams drafting at the top of round one need a receiver, and he could be a great guy to fill some of those needs.

Mike Evans Signed Mini Helmet – Tristar Auth

Teddy Bridgewater – QB Louisville

No idea why Bridgewater didn’t do much at the combine, but he will be a top pick regardless. I think he might be a bit overrated in his NFL readiness, but no less than any of the other QBs at the top. I think I like him as a mid range starter on Sunday, and those aren’t really the guys you want to draft with the first pick. Who knows, things always have the chance of turning out weird.

2012 Leaf Executive Teddy Bridgewater Cut Auto 1/1

2011 Leaf Army All American Teddy Bridgewater Auto

I cant wait for the first of 2014 products to be released, and it looks like this class should have some star power after all.

Newest Batch of 2013 National Treasures Previews Are Amazing

Every once in a while, a preview for an upcoming product is released, and you just have to say “Wow.” When 2010 Five Star was posted, I had that type of reaction. At the time, it was shocking to me how awesome the cards looked. For today’s National Treasures preview, I had that same reaction. For a long time, National Treasures has been an inferior set to me, mainly because of design. Combine that with sticker autos for the majority of its signature content, and it was worse. Things looks to be VASTLY different for 2013 Treasures.

This isnt the first time these players have had on card autographs recently, as Topps has managed to include them frequently in Five Star and other products, and Panini has done so in Treasures last year:

2012 Topps Five Star Jerry Rice Auto Patch

2012 Topps Five Star John Elway Inscription Auto

2012 National Treasures Matt Ryan Virtuoso Auto

2012 National Treasures Emmitt Smith NFL Greatest Auto

Although this is only a small sliver of the product, it is beyond impressive so far. Topps has yet to show us anything other than solicitation pictures for Five Star, which I expect to be done on a similar level of awesomeness, but these cards are really amazing. Panini is one of the best in the business in hyping up their stuff, and to be honest, its been a complete and utter failure on the Topps side. Five Star will forever be compared to Treasures because it closes out the season, but it never compares to NT's value for a variety of dumb reasons. This year, high end products will be a HARD sell, and I dont think I have seen enough to get me excited about buying product that costs as much as these sets do. The rookie class is a disaster, and the veteran content will drive the sales. Panini is definitely trying to highlight their efforts.

Here is the thing. No one can actually say that their hype machine actually contributes to better sales, but I can guarantee it doesnt hurt them when the posts are done like this. Topps deserves all the credit in the world for the last three years of Five Star. Collectors havent given said to them because the product wasnt around when Exquisite was still going strong in 2008 and 2009. That is STUPID. Panini hasnt deserved the value in NT from 2008-2011, and yet the name on the box has granted them a reprieve. I cant even put into words how angry that makes me. For 2012, we saw a glimmer of what was possible when they actually put some work into their best set of the year:

2012 National Treasures Ben Roethlisberger Virtuoso Auto

2012 National Treasures Terry Bradshaw NFL Greatest Auto

For 2013 we are seeing an evolution of that commitment to improvement. However, its still only a tiny part of the grander product hierarchy, and that still sucks. There will be stickers in NT, there will be shitty one color jersey cards inserted at an inexcusable rate. Five Star will be on card 100% and have a larger commitment to the content than any NT set has ever had. Its sad that we reward Panini for a tiny (but incredible) grouping of cards, but dont do the same for Topps when the cards have looked awesome for 3 years running. I hope that changes this year, but Im not holding my breath.

Check out these beauties:

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