NFLPA Rising Stars list includes a pair of Falcons rookies

The Falcons’ 2021 draft class hasn’t necessarily blown fans away outside of Kyle Pitts, who by all accounts was the first pick of the new regime’s term. Still, the popular “draft and develop” philosophy means Atlanta’s coaching staff will have to hone in on the likes of Richie Grant, Jalen Mayfield and the rest of the 2021 rookie class.

However, the second class of the regime seems to have more supporters. Anyone would be hard-pressed to find many national media pundits who disliked Terry Fontenot’s booty from a few months ago. There are a multitude of immediate contributors, but also many upside prospects; there’s a lot to love about this group.

So much so that two of the Falcons’ rookies have made it to the NFLPA’s annual Rising Stars List, which identifies the best rookies on the verge of having breakout seasons, gaining fan support and ultimately winning. rank among the best sellers of all officially licensed gamer merchandise. The following recruits are expected to break into NFL player product sales:

  1. Kenny Pickett, QB – Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Drake London, WR – Atlanta Falcons
  3. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, BC – New York Jets
  4. Aidan Hutchinson, DE – Detroit Lions
  5. Garrett Wilson, WR – New York Jets
  6. Chris Olave, WR – New Orleans Saints
  7. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE – New York Giants
  8. Kenneth Walker III, DD – Seattle Seahawks
  9. Desmond Ridder, QB – Atlanta Falcons
  10. Malik Willis, QB – Tennessee Titans

Here is what the article describes as the list:

Compiled annually by NFL Players Inc., the marketing and licensing company of the NFLPA, the list identifies 10 rookies and 10 veteran players ready to make an instant impact on consumer sales and ultimately make it to the rosters of the 50 best-selling NFLPA players in the new season.

The NFLPA strives to provide partners with in-depth player knowledge that they can’t get anywhere else. Through the early identification of players on the roster, the NFLPA provides partners (licensees, retailers and sponsors) with information to plan marketing campaigns, social media activations, player-focused content, brand ambassadors and product lines featuring a wider variety of players.

A total of 69 players have gone from rising stars to NFLPA Top 50 Players lists since 2015, including a record 13 last year. Among those who have gone from “Rising Star” to a top player in licensed product sales are Mac Jones and Justin Fields, who finished No. 5 and No. 8 respectively at the end of the year.

“The magic of this list is that it draws on a variety of data including player sales, fan bases, social media engagement and even fantasy football popularity,” said Steve Scebelo , president of NFL Players Inc. on-field performance, we anticipate players will be in the best position to drive product and marketing forward in the upcoming season.

The ranking assesses sales popularity factors including: on-field performance, early demand from NFLPA partners for content and marketing, fantasy league status, social media engagement, submissions of products from over 80 NFLPA licensees, team fanbases and new faces in strong markets. To be considered for Rising Stars, veteran players must not have appeared on a quarterly or year-end NFLPA Top 50 Players List, the only verified ranking of all officially licensed retailer products.

It’s really no surprise to see Drake London on this list. Fans love receivers, especially one who is expected to make a significant impact in his rookie year. However, the same cannot be said for the Falcons’ other rookie. Although he may not even have started this season, Desmond Ridder is among the most popular rookies in the league. This is likely due to his positional notoriety, but who knows, maybe some people think he’ll snatch the starting job from Marcus Mariota sooner than expected. Either way, it’s time for Falcons fans to grab a Ridder and London jersey; they’ll be all over Atlanta by the time the season rolls around.

Photographer: Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire

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