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Players Make NFL Rookie Premier a Success

More than 30 NFL rookies converges on the L.A. Coliseum for the NFL Rookie Premier - the main event for card manufacturers Donruss, Topps and Upper Deck to get photos and interviews to be used in future products and on the websites.

The 2008 NFL Draft wasn’t as loaded as in years past in the skills position, making the speculation of who will make it big and whose cards to collect all the more fun and challenging for the upcoming football card season.

Thirty-four members of this year’s rookie class made their debut this past weekend at the Reebok NFL Players Rookie Premier presented by EA Sports and hosted by NFL Players Inc. Held once again at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the two-day event was geared toward making great cards for the upcoming season’s football products, as Donruss Playoff, Topps and Upper Deck photographed the players in their NFL uniforms, while also securing autographs and event-used memorabilia.

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Four of the top five picks from the draft were present, including No. 1 pick Jake Long, quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Darren McFadden and defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey.

“I think overall it was a smashing success,” said Terry Melia, Upper Deck’s public relations manager. “We had 34 rookies go through the paces, 17 in the morning, 17 in the afternoon. All of the kids were cordial, inviting and very receptive to questions and picture taking.”

Of the 34 players present, 10 first-rounders attended, along with offensive skill position players mostly drafted in the first three rounds, including quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Brian Brohm, running backs Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones and Rashard Mendenhall and wide receivers Donnie Avery and Jordy Nelson.

“Honestly, I can tell you, every year these guys get better and better, and this class was one of the best classes we’ve had in a long time,” said Scott Prusha, marketing director for Donruss/Playoff. “This class is great. When we have a good class, they usually perform well, and I’m pretty excited about when these guys are going to perform.”

The players, too, knew this event was more than just getting their feet wet in their new uniforms. “It’s a wonderful feeling. You grew up as a kid collecting cards, hoping that one day you get to be on one,” said Dorsey, a first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs.”

Here is a recap of what the card manufacturers did at the event and when hobbyists can expect to see the first products from the Rookie Premier:

Donruss Playoff: Donruss had three stations set up, taking action shots of the players, interviewing them for the company’s website and having them sign items for future contests. Donruss already featured many of these players in Playoff Prestige Football, and Prusha said the first products from the Rookie Premier will appear in Donruss Classics, which is scheduled for an early July release.

Topps: Topps took photos of the players on Thursday to produce cards that were then handed to the players on Sunday. Players also signed cards to be used in upcoming Topps product.

Upper Deck: Upper Deck had seven stations set up, including having players jump on a porta-pit for action shots, conducting interviews for Upper Deck’s Diamond Vision and posing for self-portrait shots. The first Upper Deck product to feature these players will be Upper Deck Series 1 in mid-July.

On Thursday of the event, Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson and Patriots quarterback Kevin O’Connell appeared at Beverly Hills Baseball Card Shop. On Friday, the rookies led more than 150 middle school students in drills as part of a youth football clinic that promoted healthy living.

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