I'm one of those geeks who is compelled to watch every damn round of the NFL draft. I like to know who is going to disappoint me in the fall. The past few years I've bought a pack or two of the NFL Draft cards that show up this time of year so I can follow along and see where the players I pull get drafted. This year, the manufacturers have bumped up their production schedule in order to get the packs on the shelves well before the draft. For the first time I can remember, they have actually hit retail shelves before the draft. I picked up a pack of each product that's out to compare.
2008 Press Pass
Retail - 4 cards for $2.99
105 cards, 101-105 are short printed Power Picks (1:14)
Primetime Players - 15 cards 1:4
Autographs (Bronze, Silver #d to 199, Gold #d to 99) 1:56
Gridiron Gamers (jersey cards) 1:280
Blue foil parallel 1:1
Reflectors (numbered to 500)
Power Pick Autographs (numbered to 250 or less)
53 Trophy Club Glenn Dorsey
95 Teammates - John David Booty & Chauncey Washington
80 Chris Long All American blue foil
16 Mike Hart
Press Pass is the dean of College Football Draft Pick sets and it on the high end of the products reviewed here. The design of the base cards is very simple and attractive and doesn't take away from the photo at all. The action photography is generally very good on the base cards too. Press Pass used to have about a 55 card set with a 36 card one per pack insert set die cut or on foilboard or both, but this year it's 100 cards. The higher numbers are taken up with subsets that focus on the bigger players in the draft, as a result you have some players in the set three or four times. The last five cards in the set are short printed "Power Picks" an insert they've used for a while now. There is a one per pack parallel with blue foil instead of silver foil. With only 4 cards in a pack this makes building a set that much tougher unless you're willing to ignore the foil color. The card I pulled is in blue foil but also says reflectors even though it is not serial numbered. this might be a retail only thing, while hobby reflectors get serial numbered. Hobby boxes have 5 autos per box, but expect to drop about a Franklin on a box.
Press Pass is the nicest draft set I've seen by far, but building a set is going to be very tough. With all the subsets you're more likely to pull a star player, but the repeats in the checklist will get tedious after a while. It's a nice product if you just want to pick up a few packs or a blaster though. My pack was pretty good even though I didn't get an insert. Chris Long and Glenn Dorsey are two players I'd love to see in a Falcons uniform this fall.
Verdict - If you want a really nice looking draft set and aren't worried about the cost, this is the set for you. Hobby packs are about 2 bucks a pack more expensive, but yield more autographs.
2008 Sa-Ge HIT
Retail - 6 cards for $1.99
50 cards (low series)
Autographs (1 per blaster)
9 Early Doucet
32 Andre Callender
15 Sam Baker
44 Jordon Dizon
7 Chad Henne
38 Marcus Howard Glossy
Hit's retail product is a very stripped down version of the set, Hobby packs have more inserts and jersey cards. There is an autograph per blaster though, and autos definitely drive these Draft sets. The design is quite frankly not great. It looks like a bad minor league set and the photos are marred by the weird splotchy borders. The glossy parallel is another useless card wasting one out of the pack. I would have preferred some sort of insert instead if there had to be a 1:1 special card in each pack. The Glossies look identical to the base cards just more plasticy. The backs are inferior to Press Pass as well as it has only one year of college stats and a third of the card is eaten up by an explanation of referee signals. Hit also split their set up in two this year, there will be another "high" series coming out after the draft with 50 more prospects including Darren McFadden. Like Press Pass, Hobby packs are more than twice the price, but have way more autographs and inserts.
Verdict - It's not a great looking set and it doesn't have all the hot prospects in it. If you want a cheap product to rip, a guaranteed autograph card, and a legitimate shot at a complete set in one $20 blaster, this is the one to get.
2008 Upper Deck NFL Draft Edition
Retail - 6 cards for $1.99
1-100 draft picks
101-200 NFL veterans
Stars of the Draft, some autographs and other than that who knows?
No Clue. Upper Deck doesn't want its customers making informed decisions.
93 Tashard Choice
70 Mario Urrutia
10 Brian Brohm
SOD7 Keith Rivers Stars of the Draft
103 Larry Fitzgerald
184 Patrick Willis
Upper Deck jumps into the fray with a set that is half rookies and half veterans. Normally these kind of sets from the companies with NFL licenses are a five card pack with one rookie per pack, but UD refreshingly give us a set where the rookies are not only in their college uniforms but aren't short printed all to heck. It's got the official NFL Draft logo right on the front of the pack so they got some kind of synergy thing going on with the NFL marketers. The cards themselves are kind of pedestrian. The foil logos are unnecessary (and why do the veterans have a "Rookie Card" stamp on them??) and the goofy borders with unnecessary spot UV coating are not that attractive. The college logos are nice though and there are complete college stats on the back. Upper Deck jealously guards any kind on insert ratios for their cards and I can't easily find a breakdown of what is in this set so I'm not going to bother. I did nab an insert though and it's a pretty good looking card.
Verdict - Upper Deck does a good hybrid set here by not shortprinting the rookie cards. If you're only interested in the draft half a pack full of NFL stars will put you off, but it's got more different college players than Press Pass and Hit combined. It doesn't look as good as Press Pass but it's not a bad set by any means.
The other two sets featuring draft picks are Topps Rookie Progression and Playoff Prestige, but they aren't out yet and will both be one rookie a pack sets. I'm not impressed at all with either to be perfectly honest. If you like cards with college players on them, these three sets are your best bets. While none are perfect by any means each have their good points. Press pass looks great, Hit is cheap and UD Draft is a good all around NFL set. Depending on what you are looking for in a draft pick set any one of these would be a fun rip while watching the picks come off the board tomorrow.