A Tale of Two Joshes: The Challenge of Rookie Card Collecting4 min read

The NFL Draft is where dreams can come true or hopes can be vanquished, for both teams and individual players. An excellent selection might fill a starting lineup role for more than a decade, while a poor choice could set a team back several years. And there is no guarantee for anyone. Ryan Leaf struggled mightily after being taken by the Chargers with the No. 2 overall pick in 1998, while the Patriots secured Tom Brady two years later in the sixth round with the 199th selection and he led them to nine Super Bowl appearances and six Lombardi trophies.

The NFL Draft has similar affects on football card collectors. The heavy collecting of a “can’t-miss” prospect who somehow misses can result in large quantities of less-than-desirable cardboard, while stockpiling an inexpensive rookie who performs well beyond expectations can result in a hobby bonanza.

Two different paths

Josh Allen and Josh Rosen were selected with the seventh and 10th overall picks, respectively, in the 2018 NFL Draft and expectations were high for the two young quarterbacks. Both had recently ended successful college careers. Allen led the University of Wyoming Cowboys to two bowl games and a Mountain West Conference title in his two full seasons under center. Rosen, in three seasons at UCLA, set numerous Bruins passing records, made the Second Team All-Pac-12 as a senior and directed his team to the Cactus Bowl. But once the two Joshes made it to the NFL, high expectations were about all they had in common.

After signing a four-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals, Josh Rosen struggled under center. He earned the starting spot in the fourth week of the season but could not produce the spark the Cardinals offense desperately needed. Rosen completed his rookie season with a 3-10 record as a starter, after passing for 2,278 yards and 11 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. He was traded to the Miami Dolphins for the 2019 season, but only got into six games and averaged just 113 passing yards per game. Subsequently, he was released in the off-season. He spent time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad early in 2020 and had a similar role later in the season with the San Francisco 49ers. Neither opportunity resulted in a roster spot and one has to wonder where he will be in 2021. As would be expected, his once-desired rookie cards such as the 2018 Panini National Treasures #164 Patch Autograph have stagnated considerably.

Allen’s ascent

Josh Allen is a different story all together. He began his rookie campaign as a back-up for the Buffalo Bills but assumed the starting role in the second game of the season. He ultimately missed four games due to injury, but compiled a 5-6 record as a starter, led the team in passing and rushing, and was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week after the final game of the season. Playing a full season in 2019, Allen and the Bills went 10-6 before losing in the Wildcard Game to the Houston Texans. This year, the Bills posted a 13-3 regular-season record under Allen’s leadership, while the young gunslinger posted a 69.2% completion percentage and accumulated 4,544 passing yards and 37 touchdowns. Going into the playoffs, Josh Allen’s rookie cards are among the hottest in the game, with Panini’s Contenders Autograph #105, Immaculate Collection #104 Patch Autograph (#/99) and National Treasures #163 Patch Autograph (#/99) issues leading the charge. All three can be found with a variety of parallels, but prices are rising, and collectors are grabbing them as soon as they come up for sale. The APR for PSA 10 examples of the National Treasures card has more than doubled since this time last year.

In the event that a more direct comparison is necessary, consider the 2018 Panini Prizm rookie cards for the two signal callers. PSA’s Auction Prices Realized (APR) section reveals that PSA 10 examples of Josh Rosen’s base cards have recently been selling in the $40-to-$60 range. Meanwhile, PSA 10 Josh Allen cards from the same set have now eclipsed the $800 level.

Following the NFL Draft and zeroing in on rookies is never easy. Sometimes the sure things end up missing the mark while others who were barely on the hobby radar blossom into superstars. Hard work, attitude, staying healthy and plain old luck are all contributing factors. What does this mean for hobbyists? Study the prospects diligently and do your trading card research with the CardFacts, APR and Population Report sections on the PSA website. Then open your PSA Set Registry listings and start collecting!


Posted by Todd Tobias

Todd Tobias is a longtime hobbyist and PSA staff member who is constantly on the hunt for vintage lacrosse issues and autographed cards for his American Football League (1960-1969) collection.

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