As of right now, we have completed half of the matchups in Round 1. One quarter of the NFL teams have been eliminated, while one quarter have moved one step closer to card glory and immortality. Today we have eight more teams who will learn their first round fate. Here is our bracket as it currently stands:
Round 1: Detroit Lions vs. Cincinnati Bengals
2019 Absolute #137 T.J. Hockenson vs. 1990 Score #32 Leon White
This matchup is fairly easy for me. It's a card design that I liked versus my least favorite of 1990. T.J. Hockenson was first-round pick who has started almost as many games in the first three seasons of his career as Leon White did in his entire eight-year career. Hockensen already has one Pro Bowl under his belt, but his best season did come in with a lower Approximate Value rating than White's best. White does have the advantage of being a BYU player, but his time at BYU was a little too early for me to remember and he didn't have a standout NFL career for me to latch onto, so I don't have quite the same love for him as I do other former Cougs. But just looking at the two cards side by side, I have decided.
Round 1: Miami Dolphins vs. New Orleans Saints
2013 Bowman #109 Brian Hartline vs. 2019 Panini Prizm #185 Jared Cook
Look past the shine and there are some similarities between these two cards. First, you have the photograph of a player looking back to make the grab of a ball at about the left shoulder. Both have a picture inside of a border made up of different angles. The Prizm design is interesting to me because of the circles that make it look like somebody scuffed up the metal surface with a grinder (I saw those marks a lot when I worked my way through college at a metal shop). I think I prefer the white border and team colors on the Bowman design. On the back, each card of this Bowman set has a blurb comparing the featured player to another player, past or present. I've always liked reading those. Interstingly, the players were drafted a round apart in 2009, but Jared Cook went on to a much more distinguished career than Brian Hartline. My first inclination was to take Cook over Hartline, but I think the design and the back of the Bowman is just enough to lift Miami to the upset win here.
Round 1: Chicago Bears vs. Tennessee Titans
2002 Playoff Honors #17 Brian Urlacher vs. 1993 Fleer #60 Al Smith
These are two card designs that I like. They're both simple, but well-done. I like the elegant look of 2002 Playoff Honors and the bold last name only on 1993 Fleer. Both players are middle linebackers, but obviously Urlacher trumps Al Smith.
Round 1: Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals
2016 Absolute Xtreme Team #5 Richard Sherman vs. 2014 Panini Prizm #33 Kurt Warner
Here we have two Hall of Fame players going toe-to-toe. Warner is already there and Sherman is almost certain to join him someday. If the card sets and players were reversed, this would be really easy for me. As it is, I really like the Xtreme Team insert, but I've never cared for Richard Sherman. On the other hand, I'm not too enthralled with 2014 Prizm, but I've always been a big Kurt Warner fan. In the end, if I had to choose just one of these cards to add to my collection, the overall effect of Sherman outweighs Warner.
Just one more day to go and we'll have our Sweet 16 set!