The trade deadline in baseball is one of my favorite times of the year. The wheeling and dealing that goes on in a span of days down to hours and minutes and even seconds is really fun and exciting to watch. Teams scramble to change their fates in a matter of moments. While most major sports have some kind of similar trading deadline, no sport does it with the excitement of baseball. It’s this time of year that makes every sports fan want to be a General Manager, sitting in front of three different phones fielding calls and negotiating deals on the fly. That’s when the job must be stressful as heck but also really fun.
It was a great trade deadline this year with a lot of major deals including some coming in just under the deadline. This is a big deal for collectors as well as the actual teams. The players we have invested in may have improved their stock or hurt it by the teams they have ended up on. It’s a time to decide whether a player just became worth putting more money into or if it’s time to jump ship. Below are some of the big deals we saw go down, and advice on how you should treat the situation from a hobby perspective.
Seattle trades Ichiro Suzuki to New York for D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar
Seattle and New York seem to be becoming very friendly trade partners, hooking up for this newsworthy deal after the blockbuster last year that saw super-prospects Michael Pineda and Jesus Montero jump between these two teams. No disrespect to Seattle because I’m a big fan of the city, but from a hobby perspective these two cities are like night and day. As a result the big winner here is Ichiro, he is on his last legs as a player but still has a HUGE hobby following, especially in Japan. Going to the bright lights of New York and a winning team should only drive his values even higher. It won’t be cheap, but if you want to speculate on Ichiro possibly picking up his first World Series ring you could try for a card or two of his since it’s been so long since he was even in the playoffs.
On the flip side, Seattle picks up two very good prospects. The downside is that they are heading in the wrong direction to a team where they will likely be forgotten about from a hobby perspective. I like D.J. Mitchell however quite a bit, there is a lot of room in the Seattle rotation for young talent and both Mitchell and Farquhar could have potential there. Give it some time for their prices to drop post-New York and then consider giving them a look.
Miami trades Jacob Turner and prospects to Miami for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez
Miami had quite the fire sale after their big money experiment wasn’t going so well, and this was the first big deal they pulled off. It looks like a really good one as Jacob Turner is arguably one of the best prospects to change teams from all the deadline deals. He was already a top prospect so this doesn’t change much as he probably had equal opportunity and notoriety on either team involved, so you can continue to treat him as a top arm worth investing in.
Detroit probably should have been able to get more for a package highlighted by their top prospect, but they filled some holes with some decent if not overwhelming players. The name to watch there is Anibal Sanchez. He has quietly had some very good stretches of pitching during his career, and if he steps up in some big late season or postseason games for Detroit he could get some attention from collectors.
Miami trades Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate to Los Angeles for Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough
If Jacob Turner was the biggest prospect to move teams during the deadline deals, Hanley Ramirez was easily the biggest veteran involved in a trade. Two days after their deal with Detroit, Miami officially waved the white flag for the season by moving the face of the franchise to the opposite coast. Ramirez was instantly energized by the trade, and his cards could see a nice boost playing for a big name team in the heat of a playoff race. It harkens back to when Manny Ramirez rejuvenated his career and excited the entire West Coast when he came to Los Angeles. Hanley’s cards are worth a look especially if you believe LA can beat out San Francisco and Arizona for the division title.
Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough are underwhelming acquisitions, they are prospects that could go either way. Eovaldi has more hype and has had his moments, but I’m not crazy about either. However both should be cheap enough this offseason when trade hype dies down to be worth the risk if you believe Miami can reload and be relevant again next year.
Milwaukee trades Zach Greinke to Los Angeles of Anaheim for Jean Segura and prospects
The Angels continue to make big win-now moves and did just that getting Zach Greinke. Greinke has been good for a long time but doesn’t really get the hype he did a couple years ago when he was really elite. Maybe a move to a division race and a high profile team does the trick. I’m worried the Rangers are still the team to beat however, and guys like Albert Pujols and Mike Trout will overshadow Greinke at times. I don’t think he’s worth jumping on thanks to a move to a contender like some of the other veterans who got delt.
For the prospects I really like Jean Segura, I was following him closely thinking he could do well in that potent lineup with the bats of Pujols and Trout. Milwaukee probably offers less notoriety and support but more opportunity. He should have an impact at the top level sooner in Milwaukee than he would have before so that’s a positive. He’s worth a look as his prices weren’t bad before the trade when he was under the radar a bit. Get in now because the trade likely got him a lot of attention considering he was the centerpiece of a package that got a star pitcher. Ariel Pena, a pitcher going to Milwaukee in the deal, is also worth a look.
Chicago trades Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta for Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman
Rumored to be the backup plan for Atlanta after Ryan Dempster balked at going there, like the trade Detroit made they filled holes but at a steep price. Arodys Vizcaino has a lot of potential, and Chicago did well to get him and still flip Dempster later on in another deal. If the Cubs ever find their stride and become a contender, the attention on them will be massive. If by then Vizcaino has developed and is at the center of the rejuvenation, he will be a goldmine. He is absolutely worth a look for the future.
Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson are never going to move the needle much for collectors, but Maholm is quietly in the midst of a very strong season. With the division really opening up after Philadelphia and Miami sold off their pieces, it’s very likely we see Maholm helping lead Atlanta’s rotation into the postseason. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think you get some Maholm cards for cheap and have them pay off in the postseason after a big game or two.
Philadelphia trades Shane Victorino to Los Angeles for Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin
Los Angeles paid a steep price for Victorino but filled a huge hole with a guy who is a big boost to their lineup both hitting and in the field. So it was probably worth it. Victorino should be revitalized in LA just like Hanley Ramirez, and this team should be getting a lot of attention and the season goes on. Victorino isn’t really expensive to collect and could end up in a starring role for a high profile team. Not a bad deal for the price you will pay to invest.
Philadelphia gets two very good prospects in Lindblom and Martin. Only problem is pitchers in Philadelphia have a limited ceiling. Halladay and Lee are still there, and after the big extension he signed Cole Hamels is the face of the rotation for the foreseeable future. That being said they are talented pitchers and could make an impact as the veterans age in Philadelphia. Plus we know the team will make every effort to become elite again. It will require a youth movement as their stars age and Lindlom and Martin could lead that movement.
Philadelphia trades Hunter Pence to San Francisco for Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph, and Seth Rosin
San Francisco pounced on the remains of Philadelphia to snatch up Hunter Pence in response to the big moves Los Angeles was making. This was a decent deal for both sides and Pence could spend a few years in San Francisco doing quite well while Philadelphia continues to restock their farm system. Pence has never really gotten much hobby love despite being a decent player. Maybe the new team will help him out. He was in a supporting role in Philadelphia behind big budget players and a star-studded rotation. In San Francisco he becomes one of the best bats in the lineup. Plus San Francisco loves their star players, if the make another run this year Pence will get serious attention.
The big name going to Philly is Tommy Joseph, this kid has serious potential. At some point he will step in as the starting Catcher and should be a big part of Philadelphia’s plans both as a hitter and behind the plate managing the young pitching talent. He is one to watch long-term. Schierholtz is the other major name but never really fulfilled his potential. It wouldn’t shock me if he simply fills a hole in the lineup for a team out of contention and eventually gets pushed out by an upstart prospect. If you have any Schierholtz cards left, move them to a Philly fan now.
Chicago trades Ryan Dempster to Texas for Christian Vilanueva and Kyle Hendricks
As I mentioned above in the Paul Maholm deal, I like what Chicago did this trade deadline. They got a top prospect from Atlanta without giving up Dempster, their top trade chip. Then they played off all the competition for Dempster and parlayed it into two very good prospects from Texas. Both Vilanueva and Hendricks are the kind of guys who could lead the rebuilding effort in Chicago. I really believe they will join Arodys Vizcaino in helping turn around Chicago and make them a contender again. Plus Chicago is a very collectible team with a big fan base. They are both worth looks with Vilanueva my favorite because of the offensive potential.
Meanwhile Ryan Dempster goes to a big name team in a big time playoff race. I have always liked Dempster but he runs very under the radar as consistency doesn’t really make the headlines. Due to injures however, Dempster just became very important to the Texas rotation. If they make a run it will be in large part to the arm of Dempster, and that could get him some good attention.
Miami trades Edward Mujica to Saint Louis for Zack Cox
It was a small deal that was under the radar compared to all the other moves Miami made, but it may have been the biggest steal of any of the deals made. Mujica is a decent but unimpressive reliever, and Miami managed to net a top prospect for him. Miami could have been in the heat of the playoff race and if I was their GM I still would have taken this deal. Zack Cox could factor into the team’s future in a big way and all it cost them was an average reliever. I think Cox is a great buy right now.
Meanwhile Saint Louis fans are left to scratch their heads and wonder how one of their top prospects only got them a so-so reliever. Let’s just say I’m going to bet you don’t have anything invested in Edward Mujica and now is not the time to start thinking about it.
Miami trades Gaby Sanchez to Pittsburgh for Gorkys Hernandez and a 2013 lottery draft pick
Miami really wasn’t messing around, when they started selling they really started selling. This deal was made possible in part to acquiring Zack Cox, which made Sanchez expendable. That says a lot about Cox because Gaby Sanchez was really developing into a decent hitter. Pittsburgh did a very nice job getting him for a very good price, and he should help them in their playoff run quite a bit. I think the added attention will win him a lot of fans, and I really like the potential he has to take the next step in the coming years.
Sadly for Miami the big win for them in this deal is probably the draft pick. Gorkys Hernandez just isn’t becoming much of a player, and his best trait coming up in the minors was his defense. Miami can afford to throw him out there and see what happens, but I don’t think anything will come of it. If you want a prospect to follow from this deal, see what Miami does with the draft pick. Seriously, I’m not kidding.
Phew! Lots of big deals went down and there were even some other notable ones that didn’t make the cut like Francisco Liriano and Geovany Soto switching homes. Plenty of guys are worth taking a look at as collectors with veterans getting renewed opportunities going to contenders and prospects getting a chance to prove themselves on teams out of the race. Now get out there and negotiate your own deals for these players by picking up their best Upper Deck cards!
I really enjoy watching soccer with its fast pace and technical skill that the best players in the world make look so easy. My interest in the sport has been able to flourish working at Upper Deck thanks to our partnership with Major League Soccer . I am an even bigger fan of Landon Donovan both because of his talent on the field and his humble and friendly demeanor despite being the face of soccer in the United States. As a result, one of my favorite events to work at is our yearly Upper Deck night at a Los Angeles Galaxy home game. The Home Depot Center in Carson, California is a great venue to watch a game and you get to enjoy some of the best action that Major League Soccer has to offer with names like Landon Donovan and David Beckham on the pitch. Plus it means some face time with Donovan himself thanks to our exciting promotion.
This past Saturday was the big night and we had a marquee matchup to enjoy on Upper Deck night. The Galaxy were playing local rival Chivas USA in one of the biggest rivalries in the league known at the “SuperClasico”. The fact that the two teams share the same home field makes for a raucous crowd of divided fans and gives the atmosphere a Lakers-Clippers type of feel with the defending MLS champion Galaxy playing the big dog to the upstart Chivas squad.
Fans arrived to free packs of Upper Deck cards featuring some of the top Galaxy players including Donovan, Beckham, and Robbie Keane. The big prize however was waiting inside the packs. Just like collectors enjoy the thrill of opening a pack to potentially reveal a big autographed card, just fifty lucky fans opened their packs to reveal a special “Instant Winner” card. These were extremely tough to find as the fifty packs were spread out among over 10,000 packs handed out at the game, but the payoff was huge! Fans could flip over the card to find out that they had won a free meet and greet with a Galaxy player right after the game. Imagine going to a game featuring your favorite team and finding out you will be meeting one of your favorite players as well! The winners couldn’t contain their excitement, especially since the card did not state which player they would be meeting. The excitement was left to build as the game got underway.
My job was to man the Upper Deck booth where we showing off some autographed Landon Donovan memorabilia from Upper Deck Authenticated. The Galaxy fans were very impressed by the amazing pieces like signed jerseys, balls, and prints featuring Landon’s greatest moments from both his MLS and USA Soccer careers. We were running a special discount the night of the game on these items, and fans could pick some up right there at the team store. As a bonus fans who bought an autographed item got into the postgame meet and greet, an amazing deal multiple fans decided to take advantage of. We also had the personalized trading card station up and running, an always popular attraction where people can get their own personal Upper Deck trading card created. The line stayed long before the game and during halftime as people waited to get their face on an Upper Deck trading card.
The game was exciting and the atmosphere was very intense with a good mix of Galaxy and Chivas fans. Landon had a fantastic night scoring a pair of goals to help lead the Galaxy to a resounding 3-1 victory. After the game it was time to get ready for the meet and greet. Lucky fans who pulled the winning cards from their packs began lining up, and word spread through the line that the mystery player would be Landon himself. We were led down into the depths of the Home Depot Center to wait anxiously for Landon to arrive after cleaning up and completing his postgame duties. Eventually he arrived to cheers from the front of the line, and those further back knew it meant that Landon had arrived. We filed in a few people at a time to a small alternate locker room where Landon was set up at a table. Each fan was able to get an item signed by Landon as well as a picture with the soccer superstar. Landon was as friendly as always, like the year before it was amazing to see how friendly and upbeat he remains even after the exhaustion of playing a full game less than an hour before. I got to the front of the line and Landon noticed my Upper Deck polo I was wearing. He asked if I worked for Upper Deck and when I said yes he responded without missing a beat, “Me too!” We had a chuckle about it and snapped a quick photo, a quick meeting but a great one as always. I had never thought about Landon that way but it’s true. With Upper Deck being the exlusive provider of Landon Donovan autographed memorabilia, we are basically co-workers!
If you couldn’t make it to the game you can check out the Upper Deck Store online to find great autographed Landon Donovan items from Upper Deck Authenticated as well as Upper Deck MLS Soccer cards. Also if you would like to see free Upper Deck soccer card packs at your local MLS stadium, be sure to let your local MLS know that YOU want to see Upper Deck cards in your town! Who knows, maybe someday you’ll be at a game and get a chance to meet your favorite MLS player just like the Galaxy fans!
If you like movies, comic books, collectibles, video games, or anything else really that has to do with pop culture, Comic-Con International in San Diego, California is the biggest event of the year. Literally hundreds of thousands of people descend on San Diego every year to enjoy the biggest meeting of pop culture fans in the United States. There are movie stars, exclusives to get your hands on, and more comic books than you can count! Upper Deck was on hand to participate in the excitement of Comic-Con and show off some of our exciting Marvel products to the people who know Marvel and comic book culture the best.
Some of us working the Upper Deck booth joined the excited attendees on trolley rides through the streets of San Diego on our way to the convention center in downtown San Diego. Comic-Con is so packed with people that getting a parking spot nearby is out of the question, so public transportation is the way to go. When you arrive and the trolley doors open, they reveal a sea of people as far as the eye can see. All of downtown is taken over by Comic-Con and in every direction you see giant banners, people in costume, and all kinds of attractions before you even get inside the building.
One neat perk of working at Comic-Con is getting past the masses of people waiting to get in and enter the exhibit hall early to set up. It is a rare and very exclusive privilege to see what Comic-Con looks like without the huge amount of people everywhere. The time is limited however as before you know it the PA announcer in the sky announces that, “Comic-Con is now open!” and within minutes a once peaceful hall is overrun with excited fans scrambling to get to their destination.
Every booth goes from totally empty to full of people very quickly and the Upper Deck booth was no exception. We had a lot of exciting things for attendees to check out including demos of our new Marvel Super Hero Squad trading card game. Fans could also get their hands on our Marvel Slingers toy as well as Upper Deck Entertainment products like Hello Kitty and Marvel movie trading cards. We had over 1,000 people try out Super Hero Squad during Comic-Con, and it was a huge hit. That might have had something to do with our nifty super hero capes you could get for free with a demo. By the end of Comic-Con they were all over the exhibit hall and we had lots of people coming by the booth wondering how they could get a cape for themselves after seeing someone else wearing one. Throughout the conference fans could also get free autographed prints of some of their favorite artists through our Artist Signing Sessions. Some of the top artists who have created trading cards for Upper Deck Marvel trading card products stopped by the booth to sign their Comic-Con exclusive Upper Deck prints for free!
A big part of going to Comic-Con is all about the exclusives. Tons of companies produce special items that are only available for purchase at Comic-Con. Those people who rush into the exhibit hall at the start of each day are often heading to their favorite company’s booth to grab these exclusive items before they sell out. And boy do they go fast! Many companies set aside a limited number of these exclusive items for each day of Comic-Con, and the hottest items sell out within minutes of the doors opening. Upper Deck was featuring a great excusive featuring a commemorative coin set featuring the Marvel Avengers. Those who chose to buy the entire six coin set got a bonus Loki coin that was not available for sale. All the coins were very limited but the Loki was the rarest of all. People were taking advantage of this great exclusive all through the conference and we sold out completely by the end of Comic-Con.
Comic-Con is a wild and crazy place, but it’s also one of the most exciting experiences you can ever hope to have if you love comic books and pop culture. There are things to see and do everywhere. You never know what you are going to see whether it’s a crazy costume from your favorite video game or movie or maybe a famous person wandering the hall just being a fan like anyone else. It is an event everyone should try to get to at least once in their life, and I really enjoyed working at the Upper Deck booth meeting all the great Comic-Con fans.
While you can’t get any Upper Deck capes, coins, or autographed artist prints if you didn’t make it to Comic-Con, you can still pick up some of the products we had for sale at the conference in our Upper Deck Store. Also stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates on the latest Upper Deck Entertainment products including Marvel Premier, the first ever super high-end Marvel trading card product that was announced just last weekend at Comic-Con. If you want to see what Upper Deck has in store for Comic-Con 2013,you’ll just have to book your ticket to San Diego now!
For years we have heard excuse after excuse as to why college football will never move to a playoff system. Most fans believed we would see pigs flying before we saw a playoff system in college football. Fianlly it seems like college football fans growing disdain for the current BCS format has led to what will be a historic change to the game; a +1 game. At long last it seems we are going to have the much sought after playoff that would allow the two top teams to actually go head to head for the right to be called National Champion. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. It means even more for fans of teams that have been directly influenced by the old system.
At this point it appears the BCS has zeroed in on a four-team playoff format. In the current format, human and computer polls select the top two teams in the rankings to play in one game for the national championship. The new system would feature the top four teams playing in two semifinal games, with the winners playing each other for the championship. There are a number of variations to this format under consideration, but the four-team playoff format is the basis for all of them. A popular option is to have the semifinal games take the place at two of the major BCS bowls (Rose, Orange, Fiesta, Sugar). This is appealing because in theory it leaves room for the system to one day expand to an eight-team playoff with semifinal games held at each of the BCS bowl sites. Anything that allows the BCS to preserve their very lucrative BCS bowl format is probably very appealing to the BCS and NCAA.
I went to a small college in California; the University of San Diego. They have a lower level 1-AA football program most known for being the first head coaching spot of John Harbaugh. I love following my Toreros because for a lower division team we are pretty darn good, but I wanted a team to follow at the highest level. As a result I root for the University of Southern California Trojans. I consider them my local team since they are the closest 1-A team I can root for. San Diego State is much closer, but since my school plays them in other sports I couldn’t bring myself to root for them in football. USC fans know very well how bad the old BCS system can be. The 2003-2004 season is one of the greatest examples of how it failed college football fans. Despite having suffered only one loss, the Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush led Trojans were shut out of the championship game. The did however go on the claim an AP National Championship victory even though they did not play in the BCS title game. Even more amazing was the fact that three head coaches voted them number one in the coaches’ poll over BCS champion LSU despite a contractual obligation that requires coaches to vote the winner of the BCS title game number one at the end of the season. That tells you how bad things were that year, and there are multiple examples where most humans believe the computers got it wrong.
Personally I believe a six or eight team playoff will be the best option as four teams doesn’t totally fix the issue. One popular criticism of a playoff system is that it just moves the controversy further down the rankings. Now instead of arguing whether the third ranked team should be in the title game, we will be left with arguing whether the fifth or sixth ranked teams deserved to be in the four team playoff. It’s better than the third ranked team getting shut out, but it’s still a problem. Unfortunately the only way to truly make this a playoff situation that will make every fan happy is if we move to a playoff like the I-AA college football teams have. And is it just me, or is it just weird that the lesser league has a better playoff format?
I am an advocate of a six or eight team playoff because I believe it moves the controversy far enough down the rankings that we are no longer debating about true national title contenders. With a four team playoff it’s still very reasonable to argue that a top five team is a national title contender. There will probably be years where that fifth team is a very good team that many people will argue should get a playoff berth. With a larger playoff that controversy is moved down to the bottom half of the top ten where teams are less obvious contenders. You can argue a strong team in the middle of the top ten should play for the national title. It’s hard to make that same argument as convincingly for a two or three loss team barely in the top ten. With six or eight teams in, all the undefeated and strong one loss teams that should be in will get in. This should help make controversies more uncommon than they are now. Every year we would likely end up with a good mix of top BCS conference teams as well as one to three non-BCS teams. We would finally be able to see whether teams like Boise State can compete with traditional powerhouses like Alabama.
College football fans have a reason to celebrate now that the BCS is adopting a playoff format, but the work is not done. We will see more controversies as top teams just miss a playoff berth and the next step of expanding the playoff will hopefully come in the next few years. But for now this is a really exciting prospect for college football. It will lead to some very exciting milestones like big atmosphere playoff football games as well as likely our first mid-major national champion in history at some point. I think it will make college football more fair, but also more exciting. There will come at time where fans again have to call for improvements, but for now it’s a big win for the sport and I for one will enjoy the experience of playoff college football.
It was a fun three days in New York this past week full of picks and analysis galore. Any football fan certainly had a good time and those who collect are even more excited. The top college prospects now have professional homes and we can now start to predict who is this year’s Adrian Peterson, Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton. Investing is one of the most exciting and fun parts of collecting and getting in on the ground floor of a rookie’s rise to greatness can be a lucrative proposition.
Below are some players that I think landed in the perfect spots to be impact players their rookie year. I’m a hardcore collector so I’m taking into account the total package including depth charts, secondary market card prices, etc. Because of that you won’t see high marks for some names you might expect. Whether their cards are already too pricey (Andrew Luck) or they landed in a tough spot to really excel right away (Justin Blackmon), draft position and college pedigree are officially old news. Time to look forward to what these guys can actually do at the highest level of football. These are my opinions so if you feel differently about any of these players, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
BROCK OSWEILER, QB, DENVER: First off, this isn’t a short term investment for obvious reasons. You won’t find anyone claiming Osweiler will unseat a healthy Peyton Manning. But the key word there is healthy. Manning is only on a five year deal and depending on how he holds up for his age and health the Manning era in Denver could be a little as 2-3 years. Denver acknowledged this as well by spending a second round pick on Osweiler and making him the highest drafted quarterback outside the first round guys. You don’t take a quarterback that high just for depth, Denver must believe that Osweiler could potentially tutor under Manning and step in to lead the team at some point.
If that’s the case it could be the perfect situation for Osweiler and collectors. Aaron Rodgers taught us that you can develop a stud quarterback if you give him a few years to learn under a legend and that’s what Osweiler will have. If this goes right in a few years it will be the Osweiler show in Denver and by then the young talent in Denver should be hitting its peak including the young wide receivers. Plus as a bonus to collectors, Ryan Mallett in New England has taught us that quarterbacks in waiting behind legends actually have some hobby value as people anticipate their future debuts. Grab your Osweilers now before more and more people start to realize that Osweiler could be being groomed as the heir apparent to Manning. VERDICT: I’m going to buy
RUSSELL WILSON, QB, SEATTLE: You probably didn’t realize it, but Wilson was this year’s version of Tim Tebow. He’s a guy with intangibles galore that people rave about, but like Tebow he wasn’t blessed with traditional physical traits and abilities as quarterbacks go. Wilson can probably thank Tebow for his draft position however as Tebow helped people realize that you can win some games with a guy with the “it” factor but a non-traditional skill set. I think Seattle wants to see what Wilson is made of, and more than you might realize. Matt Flynn will be the guy starting out, but his track record is very short.
It’s entirely possible that he blows it in his first shot at being a starter. If he falters at all there’s really no serious competition outside of Wilson. Wilson is going to realize this and do everything he can to push Flynn. The more Flynn struggles the more you will hears rumors about Wilson, and at some point they could make the switch especially if Seattle continues to struggle and stronger teams run away with the division. Wilson has work to do to wrestle the quarterback of the future job from Flynn, but he might have the work ethic and commitment to pull it off. VERDICT: I’m going to buy
STEPHEN HILL, WR, NEW YORK: We talked about Hill in my draft preview last week. I’m even more excited about him in New York. First and foremost, he’s going to a really popular team that will be in spotlight all season long for a number of reasons. That alone is a huge plus. Like it or not some teams are more popular among collectors than others and New York is often at the epicenter of sports in America. Polarizing personalities like Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow will only help feed the media frenzy and keep eyes on New York and hopefully on Hill.
There are questions about how the depth chart will shape up at wide receiver and Hill could step into a starting role right away. He should be getting looks all season and he has the ability to make an impact immediately. Regardless of whether Sanchez or Tebow is throwing to him, both quarterbacks have shown they can make a receiver look good. One big game from Hill and you will start hearing his name mentioned more often. VERDICT: I’m going to buy
BRIAN QUICK, WR, ST. LOUIS: I really like St. Louis as a potential landing spot for a wide receiver. With the Rams playing it safe in round one and passing on all the top wide receivers, they decided to waste no time on day two and made Quick their receiver of the future with the first pick of round two. Quick simply because of lack of competition could start the season as high as the number one option for Sam Bradford and they could become best buddies pretty quickly.
With Jeff Fisher at the helm and Stephen Jackson backing them up, Bradford and Quick could become the cornerstone of a strong passing game. It’s not a stretch to think that when the 2012 season is over that Quick could be the most productive receiver to come out of the 2012 draft class. His card prices should be nice and reasonable with multiple receivers ahead of him in the first round, so he’s certainly worth a look. He’s got the talent, but the picture perfect situation he is being dropped into could help vault him past some higher picks. VERDICT: I’m going to buy
DAVID WILSON, RB, NEW YORK: From the bits and pieces of playing time I saw of Wilson at Virginia Tech, he looked pretty darn good. Apparently the league agreed as he managed to squeak into the first round. With Brandon Jacobs gone the backup job behind Ahmad Bradshaw is wide open in New York, and it is Wilson’s for the taking. But Wilson could end up being much more, by picking him so high this indicates that he will be more than Bradshaw’s backup.
He should receive plenty of playing time and depending on injuries to Bradshaw or in the long term him opting for free agency at some point, Wilson could very likely be the starter. From there it’s off to the races on a very strong team. Eli Manning has never really taken over the offense totally, they have always kept it very balanced in terms of running and passing so running backs have good value there. Not to mention it’s another very popular New York team that will keep Wilson’s notoriety high when he breaks out. He is appealing both in the short term and as a long term investment. VERDICT: I’m going to buy
RONNIE HILLMAN, RB, DENVER: Here is another guy I mentioned in my draft preview last week that I really like. I felt that a lot of his value would be based on where he landed and as a collector I am ecstatic about where he ended up. Not as a Chargers fan since I don’t like Denver, but as an unbiased collector looking for potential, Hillman hit the lottery. First off he ended up on a very talented team and I’m not just talking about Peyton Manning. He will receive good coaching, has a solid defense backing up his offense and there is young talent all over the offense including a strong group of receivers. The scouting report for opposing defenses is going to start with Manning, Deymarius Thomas, Eric Decker, etc. That leaves a lot of room for the running game to work and Denver seems to like run the ball a lot. That will change with Tebow gone but history shows that running backs have found success changing up the pace of the offense in between Manning passes.
Of course there is Knowshon Moreno to deal with, but he is on very shaky ground. He has a history of injury problems and he has lost playing time to other running backs even when healthy. Moreno has conceded many of his carries to Willis McGahee, but at his age he’s due to start breaking down. Everything is there for Hillman to overtake both of them and get his share of carries.
He will also garner a lot of value as a potential return man. Denver let former return man Eddie Royal go so the job should be up for grabs. Denver spent a third round pick on Hillman, so they don’t intend to let him sit. They clearly like him and if it all comes together he could leapfrog all the backs in front of him at some point. It’s a very appealing situation if things go right and Hillman plays to his potential. VERDICT: I’m going to buy
COBY FLEENER, TE, INDIANAPOLIS: Sure enough Indianapolis decided to please their shiny new number one draft pick by taking his favorite target in the second round. Everything is now set up for Fleener to have a fast start to his professional career. Outside of Reggie Wayne there weren’t a ton of options available for Andrew Luck to begin with and now he already has a great relationship with a guy who should step in as one of his top options right away.
The only concern is that they brought in another highly ranked tight end in Dwayne Allen. However Fleener and Luck have the history and that could trump anything Wayne or Allen or anyone else has in the way of potential or rapport with Luck. Just like Peyton Manning was throwing to Dallas Clark all those years, Luck to Fleener could seamlessly transition from Stanford and become the next great quarterback to tight end hookup in the pros. VERDICT: I’m buying
LUKE KUECHLY, LB, CAROLINA: Thanks to Cam Newton, Carolina is on the rise. With the offense transformed, Carolina was looking for a defensive leader and found it in Kuechly. He is the model of an elite middle linebacker. He’s a tackling machine, can cover the pass and command the defense. He reminds me of Brian Urlacher and we know how his career turned out.
Defensive players are always a risky proposition for collectors, but Kuechly is so well suited for his new situation that he’s too good to overlook. Plus Carolina should be improving in the coming years so it’s not a stretch to imagine Kuechly making big plays in major games in the coming seasons. If you like collecting defensive guys, Kuechly is for you. VERDICT: I’m going to buy
The time to make a move is now as a collector. Between now and the season these guys should continue to grow in hype as people see them play and begin to understand how teams plan to value and utilize them. Post in the comments other guys you believe are in for fast starts their rookie year and stayed tuned next week for some more draft analysis for collectors!