– David Johnson, Devonta Freeman, Mike Evans and Jordan Howard among 50 veterans and rookies rated as potential NFLPA retail stars –
– Myles Garrett, Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette highlight nine 2017 first-round draft picks on this year’s list –
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2017 – The NFL Players Association (NFLPA), via its marketing and licensing arm NFL Players Inc., today unveiled the 2017 Rising 50. The annual list identifies players poised to break out and rank among next season’s top-sellers of all officially licensed merchandise – and ultimately become the NFLPA’s next retail kings. The Arizona Cardinals’ David Johnson succeeds last year’s top prospect, Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams, and leads the field of players best positioned to influence overall sales.
The ranking was developed by evaluating on-field performances during the 2016 season, fantasy football popularity, early demand from NFLPA sponsors and licensees, as well as new faces in strong markets. To be considered for inclusion, players must not have appeared in any previous quarterly or year-end list of the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales.
“To be number one on the NFLPA’s Rising 50 list is a great accomplishment,” Johnson said. “Growing up, I never really had the recognition of being a fan favorite. Finally getting that recognition, the supporters and fans going crazy with my jersey or my Fathead or bobblehead, is really cool.”
This year’s list is highlighted by a mix of popular veteran players, promising young stars, and top draft picks. Behind Johnson are Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons), Jay Ajayi (Miami Dolphins), Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears) and Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). This year’s No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns, Myles Garrett joins Brandin Cooks (New England Patriots), Melvin Gordon (Los Angeles Chargers), Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans) and Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers) to round out the top 10.
By assembling this list of Rising 50 players, the NFLPA provides current and prospective business partners – including sponsors, licensees, and retailers – with valuable sales and marketing insights to plan product lines and marketing campaigns for the upcoming season.
“The Rising 50 helps alleviate some of the risk and uncertainty partners face when considering which new players to include in their marketing and merchandising plans,” said Steve Scebelo, NFLPA vice president of licensing and business development. “Only the NFLPA has the unique insights into the players’ interests and personalities, which we can match with partners seeking to extend their product assortments and add fresh faces to their campaigns.”
Today’s news follows the recent release of the NFLPA’s 2016-17 Year-End Top 50 Player Sales, which featured 10 players from last year’s Rising 50. Among them was Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who skyrocketed as a rookie from No. 6 on last year’s Rising 50 to No. 1 in this year’s Top Player Sales.
Highlights from the NFLPA Rising 50:
- Nine first-round picks are represented from the 2017 NFL Draft, including Myles Garrett (selected No. 1, Cleveland Browns), Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2, Chicago Bears), Leonard Fournette (No. 4, Jacksonville Jaguars), Corey Davis (No. 5, Tennessee Titans), Mike Williams (No. 7, Los Angeles Chargers), Christian McCaffrey (No. 8), John Ross (No. 9, Cincinnati Bengals), Deshaun Watson (No. 12), and T.J. Watt (No. 30, Pittsburgh Steelers)
- The Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Redskins each boast four players on the list. Four other teams – Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings – have three players on the list.
- A total of 21 players have climbed from past Rising 50 designations to spots on the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List, including 10 this past year: Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, DeAndre Hopkins, Carson Wentz, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jarvis Landry and Stefon Diggs.
- Odell Beckham Jr. topped the inaugural NFLPA Rising 50 in 2015.
- David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
- Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
- Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
- Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
- Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
- Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots
- Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
- Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
- Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins
- Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
- Tyrann Mathieu, S, Arizona Cardinals
- Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills
- Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
- Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
- T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
- Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
- Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
- Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions
- Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
- Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings
- Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
- Trevor Siemian, QB, Denver Broncos
- Terrelle Pryor, WR, Washington Redskins
- Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
- Mike Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
- Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
- Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers
- Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
- Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
- Landon Collins, S, New York Giants
- Vic Beasley, DE, Atlanta Falcons
- Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
- Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs
- Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos
- Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings
- Rob Kelley, RB, Washington Redskins
- Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
- Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
- T.J. Watt, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
- DeShone Kizer, QB, Cleveland Browns
- John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
- Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
- Jake Butt, TE, Denver Broncos
- James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, New England Patriots
About the NFL Players Association
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players, and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through 2020.
About NFL Players Inc.
NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing arm of the NFLPA, connects businesses to the power of NFL players. NFL Players Inc. creates customized business solutions for partners, through licensing, marketing strategy and player activations. For more information, please visit nflpa.com/players.
Brendan Prunty, Coyne PR, firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-938-0168