NFLPA Forecasts Top-Selling NFL Rookies and Veteran Players in Annual Rising Stars List
Social media engagement, fantasy football status, early product demand, on-field performance, new faces in key markets are among factors in building the 2021 list of rookies and veterans to watch
Ten rookies and ten veteran players have been named to the 2021 NFLPA Rising Stars. The NFLPA’s seventh annual list via its marketing and licensing arm, NFL Players Inc. identifies players who are projected to rank among the top sellers of officially licensed player products in the new season. The sports licensed retail business thrives on top-performing players, and the NFLPA expects the following rookies and popular veterans to continue driving that trend.
Rookies on the Rise
- Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars
- DeVonta Smith Philadelphia Eagles
- Najee Harris Pittsburgh Steelers
LAWRENCE, FIELDS, WILSON & LANCE LEAD 10 PROMISING ROOKIES
- Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, leads the rookies projected to have major impact at retail. The list also includes Justin Fields (Chicago Bears), Zach Wilson (New York Jets), Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers), Kyle Pitts (Atlanta Falcons), Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals), DeVonta Smith (Philadelphia Eagles), Najee Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers), Travis Etienne (Jaguars) and Mac Jones (New England Patriots).
- According to Opendorse, the social media activation partner of the NFLPA, Pitts has the highest social media engagement (17.76%) among the listed rookies. Lance experienced 1396% follower growth within the past year.
NFL Veterans on the Rise
- Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles
- Justin Jefferson Minnesota Vikings
- Darren Waller Las Vegas Raiders
HURTS, JEFFERSON, JONES, & MCLAURIN HIGHLIGHT 10 VETERANS TO WATCH
- Jalen Hurts (Eagles), Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings), Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers), Terry McLaurin (Washington Football Team), Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Kansas City Chiefs), Hunter Henry (Patriots), A.J. Brown (Tennessee Titans), Chase Claypool (Steelers) and Darren Waller (Las Vegas Raiders) rank as the 10 veterans to watch.
- To be considered for the Rising Stars list, veteran players must not have appeared on any previous quarterly or year-end NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List, the only verified rankings of all officially licensed product from retailers.
- Based on Opendorse data, Claypool, heading into his second season at wide receiver, leads Rising Star veterans in both social media growth, adding over 540,000 followers in the past year, and most engaged social media audience (11.85%). Jefferson, another second year wide receiver, gained over 430,000 followers across Twitter and Instagram this past year.
- Since the first list in 2015, 56 players have climbed from Rising Stars to spots on the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List, including eight this past year. Among them were Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow, who finished No. 4 and No. 6, respectively, at the year-end. Others included Chase Young, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Herbert, Nick Chubb and DK Metcalf.
HOW THE LIST IS BUILT
- Each of the rankings evaluates factors for sales popularity, including on-field performance, early demand from NFLPA partners for content and marketing, fantasy league status, social media engagement, product submissions from 75+ NFLPA licensees, team fanbases and new faces in strong markets.
HOW THE LIST IS UTILIZED
- The NFLPA strives to provide its partners with a depth of player knowledge they can’t get anywhere else. Through the early identification of players on the list, the NFLPA provides existing and prospective business partners (licensees, retailers and sponsors) with valuable insight to plan future marketing campaigns and product lines featuring an even wider variety of players as well as social media activations, player-driven content and evaluating brand ambassadors.
COMPLETE 2021 NFLPA RISING STARS LIST
- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears
- Zach Wilson, QB, New York Jets
- Trey Lance, QB San Francisco 49ers
- Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Facons
- Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
- DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
- Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots
- Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
- Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
- Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
- Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots
- A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
- Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders