He’d won a Heisman Trophy and earned plenty of air time for his electrifying play at Louisville but when the 2018 NFL Draft arrived, he wasn’t the first quarterback taken off the board. Or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth. He may have slipped further had the Baltimore Ravens not made a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles to jump into pick number 32 and take him. Now, though, collectors and investors have made Lamar Jackson rookie cards the king of the class.
Found in a multitude of 2018 products released by Panini America, Jackson’s cardboard is on fire and if his momentum continues, they are only going to become more popular.
The Lamar Jackson File
Not yet 20 in December 2016, the Louisville standout was the youngest player ever to win the Heisman. A serious steal by the Baltimore Ravens with the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, he was essentially an unknown in the football world until transitioning from Joe Flacco’s backup to a starter due to an injury sustained in Week 9 against Pittsburgh. Suddenly thrust into becoming the youngest starting QB in NFL history, he was fantastic the rest of the way. He went 6-1 during the rest of the regular season, but fell short while battling the Los Angeles Chargers in his playoff debut.
Jackson now owns the single-season quarterback rushing record. He has the most passing touchdowns in team history and the most career touchdowns by a quarterback age 22 or younger. He’s the first player with at least 4,000 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards in his first 30 career games in NFL history. He’s the first quarterback with three games of five or more passing touchdowns in fewer than 25 attempts.
We could go on.
Every news story seems to detail a new record broken or a new milestone. Not only to fans and collectors like his talent, he’s also humble, deflecting praise to teammates and coaches.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) December 13, 2019
Lamar Jackson Rookie Cards (The Easy Pickings)
With 35 different Lamar Jackson rookie cards on the market, there is plenty to choose from. Collectors just wanting something inexpensive should consider tried-and-true Panini releases from 2018 such as Classics, Donruss, Playoff, Prestige, Rookies and Stars, and Score. Some will feature him in collegiate gear, but most collectors tend to prefer him in NFL gear instead. The best of the bunch is probably 2018 Donruss Optic, but some love should be shown to other issues like Luminance, Playbook, and the anonymous Panini set, too.
What you are getting here is fairly bare-bones. There are no autographs, memorabilia pieces, or serial numbers. It’s basic, but that’s fine if you have a limited budget or want to grab something for a young collector. Think of them as penny stocks if you’re looking long-term. Most can be found on eBay for just a few dollars. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, many of these cards will have a wide array of parallels as Panini tends to produce.
When card companies like Panini start adding bells and whistles to their rookie cards, collectors start to invest a bit more heavily. This is not the case in every situation, but the current market on Jackson’s cards makes it a safer bet that some are willing to take a larger risk to get something which could escalate in value if he continues on his present path.
Jackson’s mid-range rookie cards are certainly flashy and will not break the bank like other might. Here, we are looking at some higher-end brands and some will feature at least a serial number. A great place to start is with the old standby, Elite, as his 2018 rookie card is numbered to a respectable 699 copies and has a few parallels. There is also a shortprinted rookie card of Jackson in 2018 Elite Draft Picks.
Also included in this range are his debuts in brands like Unparalleled and Phoenix, but the most important traditional rookie card that is not tricked out comes from Prizm. This is a brand whose reputation is stellar in basketball, but the football issue is just as nice. It has more than a rainbow’s worth of colorful parallels, but this is a decent pickup for anyone wanting an attractive card without taking too much of a risk. The 2018 Select card is a nice option, too, but the long-standing brand does not get as much hobby love as Prizm does these days.
High Roller Territory
Jackson’s rise to MVP level NFL play has led to some eye-popping prices for his premier rookie cards. Nearly two dozen low serial- numbered autographed patch rookie cards or other high-end issues have now sold for $10,000 as of this writing. Several have netted over $20,000. Lower end cards are among the hobby’s hottest in any sport. Pull pretty much any Jackson card from a mid or higher-end Panini NFL product and you’re probably going to have it graded.
Starting with the simplest options, Jackson’s rookie card in 2018 Panini Origins is a beauty which has a piece of jersey and an autograph. Other debut cards of his with the same features tend to be quite limited such as Certified (/99), Panini XR (/15), Gold Standard (/99), Illusions (/75), Plates and Patches (/99), Panini One (/49), Elements (/49), Absolute (/75), and Limited (/99). With many of these options, the choice to purchase is ultimately based on the individual collector’s preference. Outside of the XR card, they range from 49 to 99 copies each and those from the more established brands will appeal to a broader base of hobbyists.
There is also the traditional standby in Contenders. The Rookie Ticket autos have been a hobby mainstay for years and for Jackson, you can get the regular signed version which depicts him with both hands on the ball, or the Optic edition which is all about the flashy stock. Where things get a lot more interesting is with some of the most expensive products, but that is to be expected. Jackson’s rookie card from 2018 Impeccable (/75) includes a helmet piece and a hunk of patch to go along with his signature while those from 2018 Panini Encased are rarer (/25) and include a piece of a player-worn hat to go with the ink.
At the end of roughly 35 different options for Jackson rookie cards are those from the high roller brands. His auto and patch rookie card from 2018 Immaculate Collection is as advertised and pleasing to the eye. Finally, we come to his 2018 National Treasures debut and it boasts a big hunk of patch to go along with a bold signature. Both cards are numbered to 99. The 2018 Panini Flawless card, limited to 20 copies, does feature an autograph and looks sharp – justifying its high price on aesthetics alone.
The best advice is usually to buy the best looking card at a price that works with your budget.
What are collectors zeroing in on now? Check out the live list of the 75 most watched Lamar Jackson rookie cards below. To see all of his rookie cards, click here.