Sports Investor Reality Check: Not All Hot New NFL QBs Go to the Hall of Fame

Sports card collectors and investors have bought countless rookie and pre-rookie quarterback cards over the years. All do it having hope that these young men have a shot at becoming “The Next Tom Brady.” Patrick Mahomes is already firmly established as a young quarterback destined for greatness. But what about all the other young gun quarterbacks? Only two quarterbacks make it to the Super Bowl each year and only 1 is victorious. As the 2021 NFL football season kicks off, the sports card collectors and sports card investors need to understand the risks they are taking when chasing rewards or gains they are hoping to make.

There needs to be a simple reality check. Not every new NFL quarterback will go to the Hall of Fame. Not every one of these great players will be NFL passing leaders. History and common sense should also warn of injury and replacement factors. Some quarterbacks who were giants in college just do not live up to their hope and hype in the NFL. And some may within a few years just be counted as “the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL.”

Collectors Dashboard evaluates high-end collectibles as an alternative asset class. Many rookie cards and limited edition cards of the modern quarterbacks, particularly low-pop and autos, can cost thousands of dollars. Kids and adults with hardened card cases trade these players around for cash or other cards like nobody’s business. We at least wanted to give an investor’s perspective to at least consider some of the risks that young sports card investors are taking.

Any of the young guns under high expectations can flop. Quarterbacks of losing teams are just not revered the same as those on strong teams. Without Super Bowl rings and winning teams, what happens to the value of a superstar card two or three years from now if that remains the case. The veteran quarterbacks of today, and guys like Patrick Mahomes, want their share of wins and Super Bowls.

The NFL also has many starters like Bridgewater, Rodgers, Wilson, Goff, Wentz, Roethlisberger who all want to win out over these young guns. This review is being shown without going into card prices and price trends over this summer, something we will do for indexes of these players as the 2021 NFL season gets a little farther in.

Another risk for investing in and collecting high-priced young gun quarterbacks that are unproven is the fans. Fans become hyper-focused on the new wave of quarterbacks coming into the league every year going forward. That means more competition for attention of fans and collectors alike. This is of course the case in any sport. It’s still a risk. What if one of the great young guns of today remains great but faces an even greater player coming into the league in 2023? People aren’t eager to buy up cards of “the best backup QB in the league” in most cases.

Collectors Dashboard wanted to review each of the 2021 “Young Guns” who are great quarterbacks in their rookie year and who have been in the league for up to three prior seasons. Their cards get the most attention from sports card collectors and sports investors. Again, not every quarterback can be the next Brady or Mahomes. And not every QB can expect their cards to sell for the same astronomical prices years into the future like Brady and Mahomes cards have seen. And every investor needs to be reminded that there is no such thing as a guaranteed return in any investment – particularly investments on people who can easily be injured or have other career-limiting events.

Please note that our research was during the days prior to the September 12, 2021 opening day. If there have been any injuries or roster changes at the last minute, they will not have been reflected here. We have also tried to offer links to buzz around each player and NFL stats.

Here is the review of the 2021 young gun NFL quarterbacks with valuable rookie cards that have been chased by collectors and investors alike.


Josh Allen rookie card

Josh Allen is QB for the Buffalo Bills and enters in year-4 of his career. After 44 games of play in three seasons, he has passed for 9,707 yards and has 67 touchdowns. The Bills are viewed as a tough team, going 13-and-3 in 2020 and 10-and-6 in 2019. In 2020, Allen threw for 4,544 yards and had 37 touchdowns. Buffalo News has high hopes for a 6′-5′ QB that can take hits. (2018 Panini Immaculate Collection Josh Allen image from Heritage Auctions)


Joe Burrow rookie card

Joe Burrow is entering year-2 for the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cincinnati Bengals QB has played 10 games and racked up 2,688 yards for 13 touchdowns. One problem is that the Bengals have been known as “an easy win” by every other football team since 2016. That leaves a lot of upside if this franchise becomes a contender. It also means he is coming into a situation with demoralized fans who may give up quickly after just 4 wins in 2020, 2 wins in 2019 and 6 wins in 2018. Burrow’s knee injury did interrupt what was the start of a great career and the Cincinnati Enquirer laid out how great his stats were looking up that point and what to expect for 2021. (2020 Panini Chronicles Joe Burrow image from Heritage Auctions)


Sam Darnold is now at the Carolina Panthers and entering year-4 of his career. He played college football at USC and was the third overall New York Jets draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here is a look at how his debut played out against other New York QB greats. After 3 seasons playing in 38 games for the New York Jets, has passed for 8,097 yards and had 45 touchdown passes. The Carolina Panthers have not seen a winning season since 2017, and Darnold’s team last year had only 2 wins.


Justin Herbert top rookie card

Justin Herbert is entering year-two as QB for the Los Angeles Chargers. That is still a hard city to name for the team, and that may be working against him. That said, Herbert played 15 games in his 2020 rookie season and passed for 4,336 yards and racked up 31 touchdowns. He is 6′-6′ and has been the talk of endless pulls and pack breaks. The chargers won 7 and lost 9 in his rookie year. Justin Herbert is now among the top picks to be win the MVP award in 2021 and those odds have reportedly skyrocketed with very impressive peer and coach reviews. (2020 Panini Flawless Justin Herbert image from Heritage Auctions)


Jalen Hurts is entering his second season for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles fans are (let’s just say) more than tough to please. In his 2021 rookie season, he played 15 games, threw for 1,061 yards and 6 touchdowns. NBC Sports has very positive reviews for this young quarterback.


Lamar Jackson 2018 Panini Gold Standard

Lamar Jackson is leading the Baltimore Ravens. He is entering year-4 after being the 32nd overall pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Ravens. He has so far played in 46 games and has racked up 7,085 yards for 68 touchdowns. Baltimore finished first and second place in the last two seasons but lost in the divisional playoff round each year. He appears routinely in pack breaks and box buying. (2018 Panini Gold Standard Lamar Jackson image by Heritage Auctions)


Daniel Jones is taking on year-3 for the New York Giants. Here is how his start was ranked against other top quarterbacks entering the league. After two years, the 6′-5″ leaders has racked up 35 touchdowns and passed for nearly 6,000 years in 27 games. He was the sixth overall draft pick in 2019.


Mac Jones is a rookie quarterback for the New England Patriots, after taking over Cam Newton’s role. He was a first round pick but he is still following the ghost of Tom Brady. Can Boston fans expect a repeat of the two prior decades? Here is what former players are predicting for Mac Jones in his rookie season.


Trevor Lawrence rookie card

Trevor Lawrence is the hot rookie QB for the Jacksonville Jaguars and there are high hopes for his career. Being the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft just comes with high expectations, although historically the first draft pick (sort of like the Heisman Trophy winner) has not been the best barometer of a successful career. His pre-rookie cards have been in high demand, which may be an understatement, but there are also many cards out there. Lawrence rookies are also among the most most talked about cards by younger collectors and investors alike. (2021 Leaf Pro Set Trevor Lawrence image from Heritage Auctions)


2018 Kaboom Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield is heading the Cleveland Browns and CBS Sports recently penned that Mayfield is on track to match some of the stats that were put up NFL greats like Dan Marino and Payton Manning. Those are impressive, but in his fourth year it is fair to ask if Cleveland will ever be in a position to get to and/or win a Super Bowl. The Browns have such a long history of disappointment that many fans and talking heads just cannot get around to the Browns being contenders. In 46 games, Mayfield has 75 touchdowns and has racked up 11,115 yards. (2018 Kaboom Baker Mayfield image by Heritage Auctions)


Kyler Murray is entering his third year as QB for the Arizona Cardinals. He has played in 32 games, has a better team in 2021, and he passed for an impressive 7,693 yards for 46 touchdowns. He also has an impressive running game for yards and touchdowns, but the team record of 8-and-8 in 2020 and 5-and-10 in 2019 was after no winning seasons since 2015.


2020 Panini Prime Cuts Instant Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa enters his second season as QB for the Miami Dolphins, but his first season as starter. Tua has been very desired by collectors and sports card buyers. He played 10 games in 2020 and passed for 1,814 yards and 11 touchdowns. This is also his first year as the definite starter after a Dolphins record of 10-and-6 in 2020. Sports Illustrated gave a two-sided review here for the good and the bad. (2020 Panini Prime Cuts Instant Tua Tagovailoa image from Heritage Auctions)


Zach Wilson is a rookie getting to start for the New York Jets. A report on fantasy drafts from Fansided shows at least some of the challenges the rookie is facing. This team has fans who haven’t seen a winning seasons since 2015, and the team only had 2 wins in 2020.


Before you write this off, let’s do a NFL roll call check in history. The NFL has a whole slate of high draft pick quarterbacks, some of whom won the Heisman Trophy, that simply didn’t pan out in the NFL. Some of their careers just never really took off, and some were due to injury or having a great quarterback in front of them. Some QBs experienced the equivalent of high-speed flameouts. There are names like Tebow, Manziel, Ware, Carr and many more that simply did not live up to expectations.

There is a flip-side here. Of the quarterbacks that do succeed and lead their teams to Super Bowl victories of the coming years, their cards may make “looking at the risks” actually look rather foolish. Just don’t bet on all great young players being able to live up to their great expectations.

One final review is from BleacherReport, which has listed 50 young gun quarterbacks that failed to live up to their great expectations. That list can easily be updated, and history would dictate that at least one of the young men covered today will be on the list of those who did not live up to their great expectations in the future.