Hobby Musings: Panini Contenders Draft Picks always a hit with collectors – With some restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic being lifted, companies have been able to send out new trading card products. One of these was 2020 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Football, which arrived on the market last week. Featuring NFL rookies from this year’s class, the product gave collectors another chance to score some ink from football’s latest top prospects. To find out more about how this year’s product came about, I had the chance to catch up with Panini’s Ben Ecklar via email.
KS: Contenders Draft Picks Football recently hit shelves. We’re going through a turbulent time in our country with the coronavirus pandemic, what, if any, challenges did you face in getting this product out to market?
BE: There were a few additional hurdles this year, but our acquisition team was on it, pinpointing the addresses to send the autographs to get signed. Players are usually on the move during March & April between NFL Team visits, pro days & workouts, so tracking them down when the restrictions started was the key to the success of getting the 2020 Contenders Draft Picks autographs back in house.
Autographs for Prizm Draft Picks & Contenders usually start coming in house late January/early February, and we try to acquire most of the autographs by the NFL Combine, so usually it’s just the ON CARD that gets signed during March/early April to pack out 2020 Contenders Draft Picks. The real challenge this year came from our pack out facility being shut down from late March to early May, which delayed the product a month from hitting the market.
KS: With no in-person draft this year and with limited travel, how were you able to go about getting the autographs for the checklist?
BE: All the collegiate programs start early-on (October 2019) when the 1st mock drafts hit & player rankings start. That’s when we start following all the sites to analyze all the data to determine which college players will make our autograph checklist.
KS: What are some of the highlights with this year’s release for anyone looking to break it?
BE: This is such a strong class. The ON CARD College Tickets & Contenders Optic cards have been the main cards to chase along with any of the cracked ice autographs or non-autographed cards, along with other low-numbered parallels.
KS: It’s only been on market for a little bit, but what kind of reception have you seen for Contenders DP so far?
BE: Off to a great start. Lots of great box breaks, solid secondary sales on boxes and singles. Strong sales on the top picks
BE: Rookies with the opportunity to get snaps during the regular season. Some will start while others will work their way in over the season. Quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa & Justin Herbert landed in great spots to become starters as early as 2020. Running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins and Cam Akers. Wide Receivers Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Jalen Reagor, Michael Pittman, Brandon Aiyuk and Justin Jefferson. It will be interesting to see how Philly uses Jalen Hurts
KS: Who’s an under-the-radar guy you think collectors should be keeping an eye on?
BE: Who’s this year’s Gardner Minshew or Phillip Lindsey? Tough call to make. Maybe Tyler Johnson in Tampa with Tom Brady? These players may be flying under the radar although they were picked in the 2nd or 3rd round: Antonio Gibson, Van Jefferson, Chase Claypool, Zack Moss, Tyler Johnson and KJ Hamler.
KS: Looking ahead a little bit, with no rookie premiere this year, how is Panini handling getting the players shown in professional uniforms on cards?
BE: If you follow our blog, you’ll start seeing some early examples of the cloning that is taking place to showcase the 2020 NFL Rookies. Some of the 2020 Panini Origins Football images are being posted now.
KS: With Contenders DP in the books, what else does Panini have coming up for collegiate football products?
BE: Next up; 2020 Panini Obsidian Draft Picks Football (available only online) and 2020 Panini Chronicles Draft Picks Football (available in Hobby & Retail) both should be live by the end of June. Also, 2020 Panini Immaculate Collegiate, 2020 Panini National Treasures Collegiate and 2020 Panini Flawless Collegiate will be out later this summer.
Hobby Musings: Panini Contenders Draft Picks always a hit with collectors
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