Rookie Cards from Today's Hottest NFL Players
Football season is back with a roaring start. We are in Week 5 of what promises to be an exciting season with certain players, like Aaron Rodgers, already taking center stage. As these star player battle it out on the field, let’s take a minute to look back on their first year in the league and some of the noteworthy rookie cards from that season. Here are 10 of the most talked about players of 2015 and a few of their rookie cards worth consideration.

1) Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers didn’t assume his starting position on the Green Bay Packers until 2008 but he first entered the professional realm in 2005 as a backup to Brett Favre. After Rodgers took over the stating position he quickly became one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and led the Packers to a Super Bowl victory in 2010. While it is too soon to add Rodgers name to the list of best quarterbacks in history, he is well on his way to deserving that title one day. If he keeps playing like we’ve seen recently, his already popular and expensive rookie cards will join a whole other class of coveted cards. Rookie cards of note include the 2005 SP Authentic Aaron Rodgers RC #252 Autographed Jersey with a very simple design that can also boast a jersey patch and an on-card autograph. With only 99 every printed, this card can run for over $2000. While the 2005 Playoff Contenders Aaron Rodgers RC #101 Autograph is rather plentiful on the market with 530 copies printed, it is still one of the most popular rookie cards and regularly sells for over $500.

2) Peyton Manning: Manning is undeniable one of the NFL all time great quarterbacks. He’s had a long history in the NFL playing 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and leading them to two Super Bowls and one title in 2006. Since joining the Broncos in 2012, he continues to play at an unparalleled high level. Despite his amazing performance in the NFL and 5 league MVP titles, Manning’s rookie cards remain relatively affordable. That being said, the standard for all Manning cards is the 1998 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autograph Peyton Manning #87 which is difficult to find and very expensive when you do. Another iconic card of Manning’s is the 1998 Upper Deck Peyton Manning RC #1 which is easily recognizable due to the card’s stylized portrait.

3) Tom Brady: Brady is certainly a household name and is quickly making his mark in the NFL record books. As quarterback for the New England Patriots he has made six trips to the Super Bowl, won four Super Bowl titles, and has three Super Bowl MVP awards accredited to his name. He has led the Patriots to 12 division titles which is more than any other quarterback in NFL history. Holding the record for the longest consecutive win streak and most consecutive playoff wins, Brady could easily be considered as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. There is a plethora of Brady rookie cards on the market with a great deal of variety to choose from. But the only official rookie with his signature is the 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady RC #144 Autograph. One of his rarest cards is the 2000 Leaf Limited Tom Brady RC #378 including an in action photo and a colorful foil background.

4) Dez Bryant: Bryant may be one of the more controversial and explosive players in the NFL, but he is definitely interesting to watch. He is considered one of the best receivers in the NFL despite multiple incidents in his early seasons that threw his future into question. But if Bryant can funnel his explosive emotions into the game, we could see a steady improvement in his play and the value of his cards. Whether you are a Bryant fan or not, his cards still remain popular including the 2010 Topps Triple Threads Dex Bryant RC #108 Autographed Jersey in which only 99 copies were ever printed. The most high end rookie card from Bryant on the market is the 2010 Playoff National Treasures Dez Bryant RC #311 Autographed Jersey.

5) Richard Sherman: Since Sherman entered the league with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012 he has accrued the third most interceptions and defended passes and helped the Seahawks towards a Super Bowl victory in 2014. He has won numerous accolades including NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and NFL Interceptions Leader in 2013. Analysts are considering him one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Sherman’s future looks bright but his rookie cards are limited. The most popular example is the 2012 Panini Contenders Richard Sherman RC #86.

6) J.J. Watt: Defense players do not always get credit they deserve, but J.J. Watt is certainly one of the rising superstars in the sport. Watt was drafted by the Houston Texans in 2011 and quickly picked up speed in his 2012 season getting 20.5 sacks. He went on to match that sack total in 2014 becoming the first NFL player to total 20+ sacks in multiple seasons. He currently holds the Texan’s franchise record for most sacks and forced fumbles. There are a lot of Watt rookies to choose from but one great option on the market is the 2011 Panini Gold Standard J.J. Watt RC. If you have a hard time tracking that card down, the 2011 Panini Playbook J.J. Watt RC #8 Autograph is one of the most plentiful rookie cards on the market and another great option for a Watt collector. We have certainly not seen the last of J.J. Watt and his cards will likely be in high demand for years to come.

7) Marshawn Lynch: Lynch started playing for the Buffalo Bills in 2007 but is now the star running back for the Seattle Seahawks. Lynch is nicknamed the “Beast Mode” due to his aggressive running style and has been the driving force behind the Seahawks’ defense in recent seasons. Not to mention that Lynch has had four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. Lynch is a definitely a force to be reckoned with and his 2007 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Marshawn Lynch RC #131 Autographed Patch is worth your notice.

8)Andrew Luck: Luck replaced Peyton Manning as the Colt’s quarterback in 2012 and ever since has been proving himself worthy to fill that spot. In his first three professional seasons Luck led the Colts to three playoff appearances and two division titles in 2013 and 2014. He is primarily known for his passing but is starting to establish a reputation as a running quarterback and overall one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Luck’s rookie cards are some of the most popular in the entire hobby and a continued streak of great passing, amazing comebacks, and successful playoffs from Luck will push their value higher. The rarest and most coveted Luck card is the 2012 Topps Five Star Andrew Luck RC #170 Autographed Jersey. But be ready to pay a pretty penny to add this card to your collection. A more affordable option is the 2012 Topps Chrome Andrew Luck RC #1. This card’s great design makes it one of the most popular cards for collectors.

9) Rob Gronkowski: In only his second year with the New England Patriots, Gronkowski set the single season record for touchdowns by a tight end as well as the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end. He became the first tight end in history to ever lead in receiving touchdowns. Gronkowski will definitely be a player to watch, as will his rookie cards including the 2010 Playoff Contenders Rob Gronkowski Rookie Auto #299 and the 2010 Topps Chrome #C112a Rob Gronkowski Rookie.

10) Calvin Johnson: With the kind of performance we’ve seen from Calvin Johnson, he may one day be considered one of the best wide receivers of all time. Even though Johnson has been playing for the Detroit Lions since 2007, he was overshadowed in his early years by other talented players until he set the NFL record for most receiving yards in 2012. “Megatron” has also tied HOFer Michael Irvin’s record for most 100-yard games in a season. Even though Johnson has struggled with injuries in the past, it’s safe to say that if he remains in good condition we could see him continue to rise to the top. Rookie cards of note are the 2007 Limited Calvin Johnson RC #308 Autographed Jersey featuring a jersey piece and sticker autograph and also the visually appealing 2007 Ultimate Collection Calvin Johnson RC #103 Autograph.

*Photos credits due to Cardboard Connection

By Meg Venable
Collectibles Central