With the incredible popularity of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in their first years in the NFL, it doesn’t seem like fans are taking long to pick their new favorite players.
As some of the 2017 draftees gave fans a look at their new uniforms Saturday, here are our picks for the top 10 rookie jersey sellers during the 2017 NFL season.
10. T.J. Watt – Steelers
Despite not really playing last season, Watt’s brother – J.J. – still finished 13th in league merchandise sales.
Given his immediate name recognition, status as a first-round pick, and the Steelers large national fan base, Watt is well set up to be an immediate star if he can play with any resemblance to his older sibling.
9. Dalvin Cook – Vikings
Minnesota fans have been waiting to buy a new running back’s jersey for 10 years, and Cook’s No. 33 is a much sexier choice than Latavius Murray’s No. 25.
Cook’s speed and vision may result in some big plays right out of the gate that will be sure to spark some early jersey sales.
8. James Conner – Steelers
Native of Pittsburgh. Cancer survivor. Star at Pitt.
With a fan base as large as the Steelers’ and a player as likable as Conner, he may not even need to hit the field before he sees his name and number on the backs of fans.
7. Mitchell Trubisky – Bears
Trubisky didn’t receive a very warm welcome when he was drafted to Chicago, but we all know quarterbacks become more popular – regardless of their actual performance.
As the Bears have had two quality quarterbacks in the past 35 years – Jay Cutler and Jim McMahon – fans will eventually be able to convince themselves that Trubisky could be the guy to finally make them a champion again. Don’t forget, he was the second overall pick.
6. Mike Williams – Chargers
With a new team coming into the country’s second-largest media market, and the Rams’ boring first campaign in 2016, someone from the Chargers needs to take hold of the open market.
Williams projects to be a red-zone beast if he can translate his college skills to the pros, meaning he’ll be scoring lots of touchdowns. Even for a fan base that’s known for not paying super close attention, the guy who scores the touchdowns is hard to miss.
5. Taco Charlton – Cowboys
Scoring the two highest-selling merchandisers in 2016, the Cowboys remain America’s Team and will continue to sell lots and lots of jerseys, regardless of how they play.
Hoping that Charlton fills the pass-rushing role DeMarcus Ware vacated a few years ago, the Cowboys rookie will be a featured pass rusher in Dallas. But, honestly, whoever the Cowboys picked in the first round was going to have some immediate star power.
4. Leonard Fournette – Jaguars
Though Jacksonville’s market is limited and their jerseys are ghastly, Fournette has been one of the most hyped prospects to come into the NFL in some time and will generate excitement before Week 1.
The Jaguars didn’t have a player in the top 50 merchandise sellers last season, so Jacksonville fans may be looking for someone to really get behind. If Fournette starts the year trucking defensive backs like he did in college, his popularity will skyrocket.
3. Myles Garrett – Browns
Defensive players generally have a tough time selling jerseys and it definitely doesn’t help that Garrett is joining a team that went 1-15 last season, but some guys are just too talented to ignore.
Garrett has his eyes on greatness and the talent to get there. Cleveland fans – actually all NFL fans – should be able to get past the Browns’ ugly jerseys for the chance to represent the league’s next great pass rusher.
2. Christian McCaffrey – Panthers
The Stanford product is expected to be one of the most versatile, explosive running backs in the NFL for the foreseeable future, and will certainly be popular among fantasy football players.
Fans across the league have shown a willingness to adopt the Panthers, as Cam Newton’s merchandise sales have been among the best since he was drafted. Being the son of a popular player doesn’t hurt, either.
1. Deshaun Watson – Texans
Quarterbacks are king.
Watson looks to have the best shot among first-year quarterbacks to play and win as a rookie next season, and already has the nation’s attention from his championship-winning collegiate career.
The Texans have a large fan base that includes many people eager to replace the last quarterback jersey they purchased.
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