Sam Darnold Rookie Card Guide and Breakdown

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Even before his first start, the Sam Darnold Rookie Card list was fairly extensive. And there’s still more to come as the season plays out both on the field and in the world of football cards.

Sam Darnold Rookie Card

Taken third overall by the New York Jets in the 2018 draft, Darnold has no shortage of eyes on him. In a year where quarterbacks dominated the early rounds, he was the only one to land a starting job to start the season. The fact that he’s doing it in front of the big lights of New York makes the spotlight even bigger. Understandably, Darnold is among the top-tier rookies in the hobby heading into the season.

Every Sam Darnold Rookie Card comes from Panini who have an NFL-exclusive. They offer up plenty of variety. Some are straightforward and affordable. Others are rare and come with signatures and memorabilia. Most collectors won’t be inclined to chase them all but the different types of cards should offer something for pretty much every type of collection.

And while Darnold’s Rookie Cards are in 2018 products, his first cards date back to when he was in high school. 2015 Leaf Army All-American Bowl Football has several cards, many of which have autographs.

2015 Leaf US Army All-American Tour Sam Darnold Autograph

Sam Darnold Rookie Card Guide

The following is a list of Sam Darnold Rookie Cards as noted in the Beckett Football Card Database and Price Guide. Only cards with the RC tag in the database are included here, not inserts or parallels. Cards are listed alphabetically.

This list will continue to grow as new products are released and more Sam Darnold Rookie Cards arrive.


2018 Absolute Sam Darnold RC Auto Jersey #151 /100

The 2018 Absolute Sam Darnold Rookie Card is all about variety. Like several of his early issues, autographs and memorabilia are at the forefront. But this Rookie Premiere Material Autographs card brings three distinct relics for the base version. Quad and five-piece memorabilia versions are among the parallels.

Parallels: Spectrum (/49), Quad (/25), Five (/5), Five Spectrum (1/1), Quad Spectrum (1/1)

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2018 Absolute Sam Darnold Rookie Card




2018 Certified Sam Darnold RC Auto Patch #205 /175

The big draws with the 2018 Certified Sam Darnold Rookie Card are obvious. For starters, there’s the signature. Next is the oversized swatch. And while the print run of 175 copies isn’t large by any means, it is more plentiful than a lot of Darnold’s other Rookies that boast the same autograph memorabilia combination.

Parallels: Mirror Orange (/99), Mirror Red (/75), Mirror Blue (/50), Gold Etch (/25), Mirror Gold (/25), Purple Etch (/10), Mirror Purple (/10), Green Etch (/5), Mirror Green (/5), Black Etch (1/1), Mirror Black (1/1)

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2018 Classics Sam Darnold RC #206

2018 Classics is one of the furthest sets away from high-end in Panini’s portfolio. Designed with throwback in mind, the set doesn’t rely on the past directly from a design standpoint. But the nostalgia is certainly there from a look and feel standpoint. Outside of the large number of parallels, there’s nothing overly complicated — or pricey — about this Sam Darnold Rookie Card.

Parallels: Premium Edition, Red Back (/299), Blue Back (/175), Premium Edition Red Back (/175), Timeless Tributes Gold (/99), Timeless Tributes Premium Edition Gold (/65), Blank Back (/50), Green Back (/40), Premium Edition Blank Back (/35), Timeless Tributes Orange (/25), Timeless Tributes Premium Edition Orange (/15), No Name (/10), Timeless Tributes Blue (/10), Full Name (/5), Premium Edition No Name (/5), Timeless Tributes Premium Edition Blue (/5), Premium Edition Full Name (1/1), Timeless Tributes Black (1/1), Timeless Tributes Premium (1/1)

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2018 Classics Sam Darnold RC




2018 Donruss Sam Darnold RC #301

2018 Donruss is another set that has a retro feel, but it targets a more recent nostalgia. The easiest proof of that for Darnold and many of the other key rookies in the set is the Rated Rookie icon on the front, something that has been connected closely to the line since the ’80s. Don’t expect to have to put out a lot to land this card, though some of the parallels may prove to be difficult.

Parallels: Aqueous Test, Press Proof Blue, Press Proof Green, Press Proof Red, Press Proof Silver (/100), Season Stat Line (/99), Press Proof Silver Die Cut (/75), Press Proof Gold (/50), Press Proof Gold Die Cut (/25), Jersey Number (/14), Press Proof Black (/10), Press Proof Black Die Cut (1/1)

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2018 Donruss Sam Darnold Rookie Card




2018 Elite Sam Darnold RC #151 /399

Foil is the most noticeable part of 2018 Elite, something that has been connected to the brand for a long time. And while there are some modern lines and angles to add some flair, this is a toned down design when you place it along side the past couple of years. The photo and its background get a lot more real estate on the front this time around. While most rookies in the set have 699 copies, Darnold is one of a handful of short prints that have just 399, adding to the rarity and price tag.

Parallels: Green, Pink, Red (/199), Purple (/99), Aspirations (/86), Orange (/25), Aspirations Die Cut (/24), Status Die Cut (/24), Status (/14), Blue (/10), Gold (/5), Black (1/1)

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2018 Elite Draft Picks Sam Darnold RC #101

An early release to help prep collectors for the draft, at least when it comes to rookies, the 2018 Elite Draft Picks Sam Darnold has a different look from the year’s NFL Elite set. It’s actual more in line with 2017. All rookies in the set have two different cards, both available in equal quantities and with the same parallels. Darnold is a short print, making these fairly tough to find in their base form. All SP cards in the set combine to land about one per box.

Parallels: Aspirations Orange, Status Die-Cut Orange, Aspirations Purple (/99), Status Die-Cut Purple (/99), Aspirations Red (/49), Status Die-Cut Red (/49), Aspirations Blue (/25), Status Die-Cut Blue (/25), Aspirations Gold (/10), Status Die-Cut Gold (/10), Aspirations Emerald (/5), Status Die-Cut Emerald (/5), Aspirations Teal (1/1), Status Die-Cut Teal (1/1)

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2018 Immaculate Collection Collegiate Sam Darnold RC Auto Memorabilia #102 /49

An NCAA take on the premium line, the 2018 Immaculate Collection Collegiate Sam Darnold Rookie Card is led by an on-card autograph. There’s also a swatch of player-worn college gear. Taking in the many parallels, there are plenty of patches to be found.

Parallels: Premium Rookie Patch Autographs (/99), Gold (/25), Premium Rookie Patch Autographs Gold (/25), Premium Rookie Patch Autographs Bowl Logo 1 (/5), Premium Rookie Patch Autographs Bowl Logo 2 (/5), Premium Rookie Patch Autographs Brand Logo (/5), Rookie Patch Autographs Bowl Logo 1 (/5), Rookie Patch Autographs Bowl Logo 2 (/5), Platinum (1/1), Premium Rookie Patch Autographs Conference Logo (1/1), Premium Rookie Patch Autographs Platinum (1/1), Premium Rookie Patch Autographs Team Logo Shield (1/1), Rookie Patch Autographs Brand Logo (1/1), Rookie Patch Autographs Conference Logo (1/1), Rookie Patch Autographs Team Logo Shield (1/1)

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2018 Panini Sam Darnold RC #306

With 2018 Panini Football focusing on the retail market, you’re not looking at anything high-end with this card. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stand out in a couple of regards. First, the card maker gave rookies a bit of a different design versus veterans with the dark edges. Darnold, like the 99 other Rookie Cards on the checklist, are done on canvas stock as well, adding a bit more distinction.

Parallels: Blue Knight, Bronze Knight, Silver Knight (/50), Gold Knight (/20), Black Knight (1/1)

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2018 Panini Sam Darnold RC




2018 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Sam Darnold RC Autograph #101

Whether it’s college or NFL uniforms, Contenders continues to prove to be popular with football card collectors. The 2018 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Sam Darnold comes with four different versions — throwing and running photos with both his red and white USC jerseys. The most common of the four has him wearing the red jersey and running, which makes it the Rookie Card. It’s still a tough card, getting an SP designation from Panini, which means it has no more than 250 copies. The other three are SSPs and have 50 copies or less.

Parallels: Blue Foil, Red Foil, Bowl Ticket (/25), Cracked Ice (/23), Playoff Ticket (/15), Championship Ticket (1/1), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1)

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2018 Panini Elements Sam Darnold RC Autograph #74 /99

This Sam Darnold Rookie Card, like all the base cards in 2018 Panini Elements, comes printed on metal. That’s what jumps out immediately. The fact that it has an on-card signature and is numbered to 99 adds to its high-end nature. 2018 is the debut year for Elements so it will take a bit to see if the line sticks and builds a following.

Parallels: Gold (/25), Platinum (1/1)

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2018 Panini Elements Sam Darnold Rookie Card




2018 Panini Gold Standard Sam Darnold RC Auto Jersey #202 /99

The 2018 Panini Gold Standard Sam Darnold Rookie Card isn’t his only one to use foil. But the use of gold is different. As far as autographed memorabilia cards go, this one is at the more affordable end. The quarterback also has dual, triple and jumbo swatch versions on the main Gold Standard checklist. However, because this one is the most straightforward of them and has the highest print run, it gets the RC tag.

Parallels: Prime (/25), Prime Tag (1/1)

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2018 Panini Luminance Sam Darnold RC #189

Coming out in late spring, this is one of the year’s earlier sets. While this Sam Darnold Rookie Card has him listed as a member of the Jets, it was still too early to get him pictured in his pro threads. Luminance has a distinct look. The debut release for the brand takes an approach that’s modern but doesn’t have a lot of bold elements outside of the font. The darkened look to the photo is part of the overall look and feel throughout much of the checklist.

Parallels: Gold, Orange (/225), Blue (/99), Platinum Blue (/25), Red (/10), Pink (/5), Gun Metal (1/1)

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2018 Panini National Treasures Collegiate Sam Darnold RC Auto Patch #102 /99

This may be the NCAA take on National Treasures, but it still has the two things the brand is known for when it comes to Rookie Cards, autographs and jumbo swatches. Given the name and the content, this is one of the high-end Sam Darnold Rookie Cards from the earlier part of the football card season.

Parallels: College Silhouette Signatures (/49), College Silhouette Signatures Prime (/25), Silver (/25), Gold (/10), College Materials Signatures Red Bowl Logo 1 (/5),College Materials Signatures Red Bowl Logo 2 (/5),College Silhouette Signatures Bowl Logo 1 (/5),College Silhouette Signatures Bowl Logo 2 (/5), Emerald (/5), College Materials Signatures Red Brand Logo (/2), College Silhouette Signatures Brand Logo (/2), Black (1/1), College Materials Signatures Red Conference Logo (1/1), College Materials Signatures Red Team Logo Shield (1/1), College Silhouette Signatures Conference Logo (1/1), College Silhouette Signatures Team Logo Shield (1/1), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1)

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2018 Panini Origins Sam Darnold RC Auto Patch #102

The 2018 Panini Origins Sam Darnold Rookie Card is another one with a modern design. But it takes a different approach with bright colors and abstract backgrounds. For the base set, Darnold’s card comes with an autograph, done on a sticker, and an oversized patch. He has other autographs in the product that are done on-card.

Although not numbered, Origins Rookie Cards hold solid value when held against comparable cards with similar features. This is likely a testament to the brand’s popularity.

Parallels: Red (/75), Blue (/49), Turquoise (/25), Gold (/10), Green (/5), Black (1/1)

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2018 Panini Unparalleled Sam Darnold RC #206

Simply put, this is a busy card. The foil front, different lines going in several directions, dots of varying sizes and colors all compete for attention. And that’s just the base version. Unparalleled thrives with its parallels and the big patterns they add.

Without numbering or other premium elements, this is one of the more affordable Sam Darnold Rookie Cards.

Parallels: Flight, Galactic, Shine, Astral (/200), Superplaid (/150), Whirl (/100), Impact (/75), Hyper (/25), Fireworks (/5), Burst (1/1)

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2018 Panini Unparalleled Sam Darnold Rookie Card




2018 Prestige Sam Darnold RC #239

For starters, this Sam Darnold Rookie Card comes in a retail-only product. It’s not a pricey one, but it does limit distribution to a certain extent, particularly when it comes to people breaking for the secondary market. That said, 2018 Prestige Football isn’t rare. But if you’re looking for Darnold’s Rookie Card, it might be harder than you expect. It’s one of ten rookie short prints, which combine to land approximately one per case.

Parallels: Xtra Points Blue, Xtra Points Green, Xtra Points Purple, Xtra Points Red

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2018 Score Sam Darnold RC #349

2018 Score Football was the first NFL set of the season. That said, releasing around the same time as the draft, Darnold is pictured in his USC gear and listed with the college. Score has a long history of being an entry-level product. And while it has a hobby presence, it’s also very prevalent at retail as well.

Parallels: Black, Gold, Green, Purple, Red, Scorecard, Showcase (/99), Gold Zone (/50), Artist’s Proof (/35), Red Zone (/20), First Down (/10), End Zone (/6), Gem Masters (1/1)

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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