– 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.


2017 NFLPA Rising 50 List:

  1. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
  2. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
  3. Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
  4. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
  5. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  6. Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
  7. Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots
  8. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
  9. Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
  10. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
  11. Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins
  12. Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
  13. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  14. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
  15. Tyrann Mathieu, S, Arizona Cardinals
  16. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills
  17. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
  18. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
  19. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
  20. Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
  21. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
  22. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions
  23. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
  24. Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings
  25. Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
  26. Trevor Siemian, QB, Denver Broncos
  27. Terrelle Pryor, WR, Washington Redskins
  28. Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
  29. Mike Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
  30. Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
  31. Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
  32. Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers
  33. Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
  34. Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
  35. Landon Collins, S, New York Giants
  36. Vic Beasley, DE, Atlanta Falcons
  37. Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
  38. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs
  39. Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos
  40. Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings
  41. Rob Kelley, RB, Washington Redskins
  42. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
  43. Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
  44. T.J. Watt, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
  45. DeShone Kizer, QB, Cleveland Browns
  46. John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
  47. Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
  48. Jake Butt, TE, Denver Broncos
  49. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
  50. 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.


Media Contacts:

Jenna Sobray, NFLPA, Jenna.Sobray@nflpa.com or 202-572-7458

Brendan Prunty, Coyne PR, bprunty@coynepr.com or 212-938-0168

Tags player list player marketing

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