Seven players with football roots from Alabama will attend the 28th annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles this week.
Among the 42 players on the list for the Thursday-Saturday event are John Metchie III, Brian Robinson Jr. and Jameson Williams of Alabama, Malik Willis of Auburn, Jalen Tolbert of South Alabama, Velus Jones Jr. of Saraland High School and George Pickens from Hoover High School.
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The Rookie Premiere is being hosted by the NFL Players Association through its marketing and licensing arm, NFL Players Inc., and presented by Panini America.
Panini America will photograph the rookies in their new NFL uniforms and collect autographs and memorabilia to include in their football decks.
In the past two years, the rookie premiere took place virtually because of the corona pandemic.
“We’re excited to be back at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere in person,” said Jason Howarth, Vice President of Marketing for Panini America. “The event is an important part for us and the trading card community at large as it gives us the opportunity to capture the top rookies in their uniforms for their Panini Rookie trading cards for the first time and to sign them at their autograph trading cards.
“Once drafted, we submit our list of what we believe to be the 40+ most collectible players to attend the rookie photo shoot, and it sets the stage for our NFL/NFLPA trading card products for the year.”
The union’s annual alignment for the league’s “marketable new stars” includes seminars on financial planning and branding, and connects players with NFLPA business partners who help “develop their brands and careers on and off the field.”
Companies attending this year’s Rookie Premiere alongside Panini America include Fanatics, Dapper Labs, EA Sports, StatusPro, Sleep Number, Elevee, FedEx, Outerstuff, Oakley, On the Mark, Funko, Rock ‘Em Socks, Interactive Company, Original Retro Brand, American Roots, 500 Level, Fathead, Anheuser-Busch and Gatorade.
“NFLPA Rookie Premiere is an opportunity for partners to connect with tomorrow’s most influential athletes, and we’re thrilled to be back in person to facilitate those introductions and experiences,” said Steve Scebelo, President of NFL Players Inc “For the first time as professionals and following in the footsteps of players like Russell Wilson, Saquon Barkley and Cooper Kupp, this year’s class will also learn about the business from union leaders as they plan beyond the career and strengthen bonds for future success.” .”
The Detroit Lions selected Williams, a wide receiver, with the 12th pick in the April 28 NFL draft.
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The Houston Texans selected Metchie, a wide receiver, with the 44th pick in the April 29 NFL draft.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers picked Pickens, a wide receiver, with the 52nd pick in the April 29 NFL draft.
The Chicago Bears selected Jones, a wide receiver, with the 71st pick in the April 29 NFL draft.
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The Tennessee Titans selected Willis, a quarterback, with the 86th pick in the April 29 NFL draft. The Titans brought Willis from Liberty, where he moved after spending his first two collegiate seasons at Auburn.
The Dallas Cowboys selected Tolbert, a wide receiver preparing at McGill-Toolen in Mobile, with the 88th pick in the April 29 NFL draft.
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The Washington Commanders selected Robinson, a running back preparing at Hillcrest, Tuscaloosa, with the 98th pick on April 29.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.