Draw Plays: Panini America Appreciates the Artwork of the NFL’s Top Rookie Stars

The Panini America Original Player Sketch Card. It's a personality-projecting art project that tests future NFL superstars unlike anything at the scouting combine ever could. It's an annual write, er, rite of passage for players attending the NFLPA Rookie Premiere every year, a fun-loving and quite literal draw play executed by quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and linebackers alike.

Christine Michael Sketch Card

The Panini America Original Player Sketch Card. It’s a personality-projecting art project that tests future NFL superstars unlike anything at the scouting combine ever could. It’s an annual write, er, rite of passage for players attending the NFLPA Rookie Premiere every year, a fun-loving and quite literal draw play executed  by quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and linebackers alike.

Every year inside the Panini America Marketing Station at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere, company officials present the new new crop of rookies with a multicolored arsenal of markers, a few blank pieces of cardboard and a two-word plea: “Draw something.” It’s a simple premise that can lead to some quite complex results, not to mention some of the most valuable and unique trading cards these players will ever produce.

Andrew Luck’s nifty sketch of Lucas Oil Stadium sold for more than $1,500 last season. Other players’ prolific penmanship routinely fetches several hundred dollars apiece on the secondary market. So, which pigskin Picassos will command the most attention this season? We’re about to find out. During next week’s 2013 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago, Panini America officials will unveil the newest series of masterpieces handcrafted by the headliners of the 2013 NFL Draft Class. The special cards will be inserted into packs of cards created exclusively for the show.

We’ve provided a detailed art exhibit of sorts below, a gallery full of one-of-a-kind works of art inspired by everything from NFL and college team logos to Scripture to favorite plays to skylines. A few things to note about this year’s artwork:

  • If the competition for playing time between Bills receivers Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods is as fierce and as fun as their heated battle to determine who could draw the better buffalo, the Bills are going to be in good shape this season.
  • The battle of dueling Steelers logos between Le’veon Bell and Markus Wheaton wasn’t nearly as close.
  • For what it’s worth, if Goodwin’s not the most talented artist of the 2013 NFL Draft Class, that honor likely goes to 49ers tight end Vance McDonald.
  • EJ Manuel’s artistry is simple, but his use of color is superb.
  • While sporting dramatically different styles, there’s no denying the artistic skill of rookie QBs Geno Smith and Matt Barkley. Fittingly, both players opted to use green for their sketches to match their new team colors.
  • Manti Te’o seems equally adept at this point illustrating shamrocks or lightning bolts.
  • In a true art-imitates-life kind of thing, funny and effusive 49ers receiver Quinton Patton provided some of the most colorful creations.
  • It’s hard not to appreciate the improvisational artistic talents of Tyler Wilson, Gavin Escobar and Christine Michael. Of course, there’s something to be said for Eddie Lacy’s stick-figure cheesehead, too.

But like any trip to the art museum, you’re likely to find your own observations to be the most rewarding. Your exhibit begins now . . .

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0 Replies to “Draw Plays: Panini America Appreciates the Artwork of the NFL’s Top Rookie Stars”

  1. I completely understand how personal these cards can be to a fan. And I also commend Panini in continuing and leading the sports cards industry through their amazing technology and resources! I would like to add and make sure fans that collect sports cards understand that Panini America has “THE BEST” customer service department not only in this industry but a model that Fortune 500 companies should follow. Most importantly, the staff at “Knights Lance” and of course lets not forget Tracy Hackler for their dedication and hardwork!

    That being said, it is my humble opinion that these cards are amazing in that the time and effort it takes for both Panini and the chosen athlete to make time in their very busy schedule is mind boggling! Great job!!!!!

    1. Really? Unbelievable that people pay top dollar for these cards. Aside from resale value, I wouldn’t be very happy pulling any of these cards (with the exception of perhaps a personal/motivational quote). Get back to basics – I’d love to see actual game-worn jersey cards that mention the date of the game played and a little write-up on their performance.

  2. Some of these guys put a lot more effort than others but I think I see why they are football players and not artists LOL

  3. Last year’s ones looked fantastic at the National! These look just as fine!

    I applaud Matt Barkley’s rendition of the Philly Skyline as well as the Eagles logo!!

  4. Some of those are fantastic, excellent artwork by the players. I like these in that they give insight into the personality of the player, more than just their signature or a piece of clothing that was briefly worn. Great set again this year, thanks Tracy!

  5. Markus Wheatons Steelers logo wins! Also Marquise Goodwin’s Buffalo Bill beat Robert Woods. Impressive Job by Matt Barkely as well!

  6. man..I wished the sketch cards were inclusions into products as box toppers or something. I will probably never make it to the National and would love to find one of these in a box or pack where I would have a shot at it 🙂

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