The episodes follow top NFL Draft prospects on their journeys to the pros and earning their first rookie card.
Panini, the exclusive trading card manufacturer of the NFL and the NFLPA, announced projected top draft prospects Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan, Garrett Wilson of Ohio State, and Matt Corral of Ole Miss as the stars of their “Road to Rated Rookie” docuseries.
Returning for the third year, the behind-the-scenes digital series highlights the trio’s journeys to becoming pros on and off the field — from the end of their collegiate careers to the NFL Combine, Pro Days, and eventually, the 2022 NFL Draft. Awaiting each player after all of that: his first rookie card.
Each athlete will have three episodes tracking his journey to draft night. The series kicks off Thursday with the start of Corral’s recovery from the knee injury that ended his Ole Miss career in the Sugar Bowl.
“Aidan, Garrett, and Matt all play with a tenacity and passion that come out in their games,” Panini America Vice President of Marketing Jason Howarth told Boardroom. “They are willing to go above and beyond what their position calls for, and that’s a perfect fit for what we do as a brand. The ‘Road to Rated Rookie’ series gives fans an inside look at the process of these incredible athletes preparing for the draft on and off the field and earning their first Panini cards.”
Hutchinson has been penciled in as the presumed top choice in next month’s draft. The defensive end had a breakout season last year, leading Michigan to the College Football Playoff and finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting. He also earned consensus All-American honors and the Lombardi, Lott, and Hendricks Awards along the way. He now becomes the first defensive player to be featured in Panini’s “Road to Rated Rookie” series since it debuted in 2020.
“It’s going to be crazy holding my trading card for the first time,” Hutchinson told Boardroom. “Growing up, every kid and every athlete wants their own card, and to actually have my own NFL one will be so special. As soon as I get my rookie card, I’m locking it away for a long time. I’m keeping it in a safe place and hope to give it to my grandkids someday.”
Shooting up draft boards since dominating February’s NFL Combine with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, the former Ohio State receiver Garrett is projected to be among the first wideouts selected.
“Growing up, I can’t say I was someone who collected cards, but I know what it means to fans and the community behind it,” Garrett told Boardroom. “I know it is going to be really special to see myself on a card, and I’m really looking forward to that and the impact it’ll have with my family.”
Corral led Ole Miss to its first 10-win regular season in program history by throwing for more than 3,300 yards and 20 touchdowns. He added nearly 600 yards on the ground with 11 rushing touchdowns. His relationship with Panini began last summer with an NIL partnership culminating in a Times Square billboard promoting him for the Heisman Trophy.
“Being in this position now is surreal; it’s really a blessing,” Corral explained to Boardroom. “If you would have told me when I was 10 years old that I would have my own trading card, I wouldn’t have believed you. Sharing my journey in the ‘Road to Rated Rookie’ series continues to build on my relationship with Panini. They’ve always taken care of me, and I couldn’t be more excited for the future with them.”
Hutchinson, Wilson, and Corral all expect their names to be called early when the NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 28, in Las Vegas, and their first NFL rookie trading cards will release in conjunction with their respective selections.
The trio — in additional to other top rookies — will have autographed rookie cards in Panini’s 2022 Season NFL Products beginning with Score Football and the Collegiate Draft Pick products released next month. All will be available online here and at nationwide retailers including Target, Walmart, and hobby shops.
Upcoming “Road to Rated Rookie” episodes will launch via Panini and athlete social channels leading up to the NFL Draft.