Look, it’s no secret that wildly talented defensive dynamos such as Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh will dominate the top of the 2010 NFL Draft that begins tonight. But when it comes to collector adulation, it’s the skill position players – many of whom will be taken rounds after Suh and McCoy are long gone – that generate the most buzz and secondary-market money in the football card world.
That’s why we asked nine hobby luminaries with a vested interest in the football card market to help us select – in order, NFL draft style – the 2010 rookies with the most hobby potential. (For grins, and simply because we needed one more to make it a perfect 10, I forced my way into the discussion, too.)
After using an online randomizer to select draft position, we commenced with our own little Top 10 Mock Draft . . .
1. Nick Redwine, Owner, Nick’s Sports Cards, Dallas
Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Collectors love quarterbacks and running backs and the simple fact is their cards carry more value. Bradford is a gamble – he could be great or he could end up a clipboard quarterback on some third-ranked team. I believe he has the skills and, if he’s injury free, could be an outstanding NFL quarterback. We could see this reflected early in his card prices. Picking Bradford is like opening a pack of cards; some days you’re the bug and some days you’re the windshield. Only time will tell.
2. Nick Matijevich, Director of Product Development, Press Pass
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
The guy is a physical freak, he’s one of the greatest collegiate players in the history of the game and he’s clean-cut with a great attitude – all of which increase his collector base exponentially. The fact that his Senior Bowl practices drew thousands of fans (I was told the crowds were roughly five times the average attendance vs. past years by an agent from a rival firm) and he had a Super Bowl commercial before even being drafted, speaks to his marketability.
No matter where he’s drafted, he will challenge Sam Bradford for the top spot in the hobby all year. After watching him play at Florida, I also believe that he will become a great pro QB down the line, as he’s a better pure QB at this point in his career than Vince Young was, and he rivals him from a physical skills standpoint.
3. Chris Carlin, Hobby Media Manager, Upper Deck
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
I know QBs are the favorite picks with collectors right off the bat every year, but they frequently struggle or, worse yet, spend significant time in year one holding a clipboard. Collectors love it when players come in immediately and make an impact with their team, so I think it makes sense to go with a running back here. I really like Spiller as he’s got the potential to be really explosive and, with him likely going to a more successful team in the mid to late first round, he should be able to do well.
Additionally, if he goes to a team like the Giants with a rabid fan base, his cards should immediately see a spike since he would likely be the heir apparent to Brandon Jacobs, who has been on the decline, and Ahmad Bradshaw, who is set to be a free agent next season.
4. Tracy Hackler, Editorial Director, Beckett Media
Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
My head said to go with Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen here, but my heart won out as I took Clausen’s – and, in my opinion, this draft’s – No. 1 receiver.
Simply, I’m a sucker for the high-upside pass-catcher, and the appropriately named Golden Tate certainly fits the bill there. The 5-11, 195-pounder is a captivating speed and RAC performer who caught 151 passes for 2,576 yards and 25 touchdowns during his last two seasons in South Bend. He also added three rushing touchdowns.
Most experts have Tate slotted as a late first-round pick. I say he’s a steal there, no matter who takes him.
5. Scott Prusha, Marketing Director, Panini America
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
Collectors love great Notre Dame QBs – Joe Montana, anyone? – and usually exhibit extreme patience with those who aren’t as great – Rick Mirer, Brady Quinn. Personally, I think Clausen will be more like the former than the latter.
He’s got all the tools GMs covet in their franchise quarterbacks and pre-draft buzz had him going to the Washington Redskins and new QB-friendly head coach Mike Shanahan, a guy, you may recall, who brought Super Bowls to John Elway and respectability to Jake Plummer.
Even if he doesn’t go there, he’s a can’t-miss top-end Hot List guy for most of 2010.
6. Tom Geideman, President/CEO, SA*GE Collectibles
Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
I had the pleasure of watching Colt McCoy in person at the Holiday Bowl a few years ago and on TV a bunch more. I was watching Arizona State’s QB closely that Holiday Bowl because we had him projected as a fourth rounder and therefore interested in pursuing him for a deal that year. After watching that game I realized the ASU QB was not going to get drafted (he didn’t) and that McCoy was a superstar. He’s a four-year starter at one of the greatest universities in the world, and a highly intelligent, athletic and accurate passer. Off the field he’s a great human being any franchise would be lucky to have.
I think you can compare him to Drew Brees in that you’re not going to find anyone who will work harder on or off the field for his team, his family or his community. I expect McCoy to be selected in mid-to-late first-round range or very early in second round. I see him going to a team where he can compete immediately for the starting job. He’s a smart player with a great agent. He’ll sign early so that he doesn’t miss any camp. He may not earn the No. 1 job to start the season, but he’ll start multiple times during the year. He’ll show glimpses as a rookie of the superstar he’s going to be in 2011 and beyond.
7. Mitch Guttenberg, Extra Innings Sports Cards, Los Angeles
Taylor Mays, S, USC
Projected as a mid first-rounder, Mays is a big-hitting, blazing-fast force in the secondary who presents going-over-the-middle concerns for any receiver – no matter how big – brave enough to do so on Mays’ watch. He has a big-school pedigree from USC where was a three-time First Team All-America selection.
While my business partner Michael Fead and I realize Mays is the first defensive player to go in this hobby-heavy mock draft, you have to understand Mays’ importance to our customers right in his backyard who’ll be doing heavy buying in our store.
He may not be a huge hobby hit on the national scene, but he’ll be a star for us.
8. Thomas Fish, Blowoutcards.com
Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson
Why? Because Jacoby Ford’s 4.28-second 40-yard dash was the second-fastest in combine history since 2000 and tied former Texan Jerome Mathis (2005) for the fastest ever run by a receiver. Current Titans RB Chris Johnson holds the overall record at 4.24 seconds, set in 2008. In other words, Ford runs more like a Porsche.
Picture this: Darius Heyward-Bey on one side and Ford on the other with a slimmed-down JaMarcus Russell throwing deep four downs straight. It’s the Raiders, so anything can happen. And if that does, Ford will be No. 1 with a bullet in the hobby all season long.
9. Larry Fassauer, Collector/Beckett.com member silverjp2, New Braunfels, Texas
Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
This guy is an untapped talent with the potential to make the big plays. With so few elite WRs in the NFL, Dez could very well be the next Jerry Rice. Look for Dez to break single-season records in receptions and receiving yards for the team he plays on this year.
10. Shawn Crandall, Marketing Manager, Dave and Adam’s Card World
Jahvid Best, RB, California
He’s an explosive player who could become a major playmaker in the NFL. He could turn out to be a very exciting running back and create a lot of excitement among football collectors during the 2010 season.
Tracy Hackler is the editorial director for Beckett Media. Have a comment or question? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.