2018 Panini Elite Draft Football: It's Boom or Bust!


The 2018 Football Card season is underway.  The NFL draft is still a couple weeks away, but on April 6th Panini released the 2018 version of  Elite Draft to kick-off a new round of pigskin products.

If you enjoy cards of players in their college uniform, then this is the product for you.  Personally, I have mixed feelings on the issue, but I think after going through this set I’ve finally figured out where I land.  I am not a fan of the NFL products where veteran players are shown in their pro uniform, but the rookies are shown in their college ones.  This is why I rarely purchase any of the early season releases such as Classics, Score, etc.  If it is a full scale NFL product, I want all the players to be in NFL gear.  

However, this is a Collegiate focused product, and all players, veterans and rookies alike, are shown in their college jerseys.  For what ever reason, I don’t have an issue with that.  

2018 Panini Elite Draft base variations of Baker Mayfield, Saquon Barkley, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen

2018 Panini Elite Draft base variations of Baker Mayfield, Saquon Barkley, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen

Base Set

2018 Elite Draft Variations have a circle enclosed "V"

2018 Elite Draft Variations have a circle enclosed "V"

The base set includes 154 cards, 100 of which are current or retired players.  The final 54 cards are rookies.  Each of the 54 rookies also has a photo variation, and these can be identified by the circled V on the bottom right corner of the back of the card.  From what I can tell by looking at the inventory on Sportlots, the variations appear to fall in almost the same quantity as the standard version.  In my box, I actually ended up with only one one standard version, all the rest were photo variations.

There are also 10 Short Prints which add a bit of scarcity to those putting together complete sets.  A variety of colored, serial numbered, parallel cards can also be found of all 154 base cards.


While only 54 rookies get base set treatment, 152 different potential draft picks have their first officially licensed autographs in this product.  There are also a variety of autographed inserts which can be found in more limited quantities.  The large autograph checklist is what makes Elite Draft such a gamble from a value perspective.  Although guys like Josh Rosen, Saquon Barkley, Baker Mayfieldt, and the rest of he top tier of the draft class command some good money, there are a significant number of autos from picks who will not even make a roster and quickly find their way to the $1 auto bin.

The definition of High Risk/High Reward.



That being said, if you are a singles buyer, this product is a great way to pick up some cheap autographs from players of your favorite college team.


A variety of inserts are included in packs.  Chain Reaction, College Ties, Elite Series, Passing the Torch, and Primary Colors are the sets to chase.  Each has a standard version as well as a “Holo” parallel serial numbered /40.  As I mentioned above, each of these insert sets also has a autographed version with limited quantities available.

Watch my hobby box break below!


From a value perspective it was a pretty underwhelming break.  My five autos were not good at all, at least up to this point.  I have no personal connection to any of them, so the Kamryn Pettway /49 will go up on eBay, and the rest will go into my “prospect auto” box and I’ll keep an eye on their performance.  Hopefully over the course of the season they generate some interest and amount to more than the $2 or so they are currently selling for.

I did get a couple copies of several of the highly touted prospects, so there will be at least a handful of cards that find their way into my PC binder once I know which team to group them with.

I would love this set at a $75 per box price point, but the $90-$100 it is currently selling for is a little much for me.  I’m glad I got to experience one box, but from here on out singles it is!

Did you open any?  What did you think?  Do you like college uniforms, or do you stick to the pro versions?

Leave me a comment to let me know, and don’t forget to help me spread the word by clicking on the share icon below!