Mint Musings: Bowl Games Offer Collectors Look at Future – College football’s regular season may be over, but we still have plenty of action left with bowl season. While some may argue that there are too many bowl games, they do give us the chance to get a look at some talent on a national stage.
They also give NFL hopefuls the chance for better exposure as they try to improve their draft stock. In the interest of full disclosure, I tend to base an NFL prospect’s early collecting stock more on his combine performances and eventual draft selection/team. With that in mind though, here are six players that could benefit from an impressive bowl performance.
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama: Running backs are always a risky proposition with high draft picks and trading card collectors. The recent performances of fellow Alabama running backs Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, fair or not, may also have collectors being a little wary of Henry. That being said, his Heisman victory already has him in an exclusive category for collectibles.
While some may be nervous about paying high prices for him early out of the gate, his college fan base is sure to help make his early returns strong, especially if he’s taken in the top 10 in the draft. I wouldn’t be surprised to be see Panini feature him heavily on Alabama cards until his NFL stuff is ready. Rams rookie RB Todd Gurley showed us this year that a productive rookie season can send collectors into a buying frenzy in a hurry. While he’s already a highly touted draft prospect, an impressive performance in the College Football Playoff could further vault Henry’s draft stock and his standing with collectors.
Jared Goff, QB, California: It’s been a little bit of a down year for quarterbacks in college football, but Goff is a guy who’s been getting some traction, especially with some mock drafts linking him to the 49ers. It’s not a secret in the hobby that quarterbacks rule the roost, especially when it comes to rookie collecting. While it’s one of the riskiest positions to invest in because of the typically high numbers spent early on their cards, it can also have some of the most upside if the QB performs well early on.
If you don’t believe me, just check out Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston. California is set to face Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl next week. While Goff may not be as big a name as Winston and Mariota were last year, collectors and flippers love to turn the page quickly and look for the next big thing. A big bowl performance, combined with the 49ers’ speculation, could turn this guy into a hobby favorite pretty soon.
Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis: Here’s another guy you may not have heard a ton about due to his playing for Memphis. He is someone you’ll likely be tired of hearing about soon enough as the draft speculation gets fully underway. Lynch, is considered by many, to be the best quarterback prospect in the 2016 draft and as of now, is expected to be a top pick. He’s 6-foot-7, which is sure to get him some attention based on the current desires for quarterback prototypes. He also threw 28 touchdown passes and only three interceptions this season.
Lynch and Memphis drew Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl next week. While Auburn may not be the best SEC team in the land, that kind of media exposure in a bowl game against an SEC team could be key for Lynch in getting exposure to a more mainstream audience. If he plays well, it could help make him more of a notable name among collectors as well.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State: He’s someone who is likely to get collectors excited because of his college football pedigree. He generated some negative attention for questioning his coaching staff after the Buckeyes’ loss to Michigan State. While some evaluators may see that as a red flag, NFL teams tend to be rather forgiving on minor characters issues as long as the performance is there.
Ohio State missed out on the College Football Playoff this season, but they’re still playing in a high-profile game against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. A good performance against the Fighting Irish should help solidify an early high stock in collecting circles. Though it’s unlikely, getting drafted by the Browns could also provide a nice boom for his collecting demand.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi: Along with TCU’s Josh Doctson, Treadwell is one of the top wide receiver options in the 2016 draft. Receivers always tend to be a risky proposition in the collecting world, but as Amari Cooper and Odell Beckham Jr. have shown us recently, the demand for rookie receiver cards can be pretty strong.
He’s someone that could make an instant impact on the field and in the hobby world if teamed up with a capable quarterback in the NFL. Benefitting from playing with an SEC power in Ole Miss, Treadwell will have a nice chance to get a bigger boost in notoriety when playing against Oklahoma State in the Rose Bowl.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: Mayfield is an interesting one and perhaps someone who has the most to gain in the collecting world with a strong bowl performance. Being a finalist for the Heisman certainly would have helped add some buzz, but Mayfield will get a great chance to make up for that with a good performance in the College Football Playoff. If he can take the Sooners to a title victory, it should help to improve his draft stock and interest among collectors. He likely won’t overtake players like Goff and Lynch for the top position in QB prospects, but he’s someone worth keeping an eye on.
I would have included Robert Nkemdiche on this list, but he’s been suspended by Ole Miss for their Bowl game, so it’s kind of a moot point. One way or the other, there will certainly be a lot of interesting prospects to chase in next year’s NFL draft.
With any luck, we’ll have a better idea of who some of the more intriguing guys to chase will be by the end of bowl season. Panini’s entrance, Upper Deck’s limited role, SAGE’s regular releases and Press Pass’ exit from the trading card market should make for an interesting set of storylines once we get closer to the draft. One way or the other, be sure to keep an eye on the bowl games this year as they’ll provide a good early glimpse at who could be starring in the NFL pretty soon.
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan as the producer of ESPN’s Mint Condition has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on the hobby in Mint Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
- Hobby Musings: Catching up with All-Star pitcher Matt Capps - September 19, 2021
- Hobby Musings: Historic Autographs brings 1945 to trading cards in a big way - September 12, 2021
- Hobby Musings: A dive into Panini Legacy Football ahead of NFL season - September 8, 2021