2022 Clearly Donruss Football Review: A Transparent “Stay Away”

April 16, 2023

For the second straight year, 2022 Panini Clearly Donruss takes the Donruss football cards to an acetate cardstock, where collectors can pull see-through rated rookies, rookie autographs, and unique parallels. 

Releasing on April 21 at $180 per box, should you go all-in, or is this a product that is a transparent stay away?

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Clearly Donruss 2022 product introduction

Donruss Football is an amazing product, which is why I named it #6 on my list of most reliable brands for investing. It has a low barrier of entry and high collectability, which is a great recipe for becoming a longtime hold. 

Much like Topps and Topps Chrome, Donruss’s popularity gave birth to an optichrome variation: Donruss Optic. Optic is also a great brand (#2 on my list).

And then there’s Clearly Donruss. This one is the product is a spin-off from Panini that nobody asked for, one that was a trip back to the same well as Donruss and Optic came from, but also one that doesn’t have the same charm. It’s more of a “beating a dead horse” charm.  It started as a Chronicles insert and was a fun twist there, but Panini went too far and gave it a whole product line.

Clearly is built on almost the same logic as Donruss turning into Donruss Optic, but we’ve had other instances in the past of cards getting an opti-chrome brother. Adding on a third set of Donruss feels like a bit much, despite how much collectors love the timeless-looking rated rookies. 

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Clearly Donruss cards look good, keeping the Rated Rookie design, but don’t expect them to grade well. The acetate they are printed on shows scratches from the printing process and the edges and corners are typically come up short with sharpness. 

But if you’re not into grading cards and favor the unique look and feel of these cards, Clearly Donruss offers a collecting experience unlike most other brands.   

What to expect from 2022 Clearly Donruss

If you’ve ever ripped Donruss or Optic, this product will feel like a very similar rip… just a shorter one. 

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A Rated Rookie Tribute Card

Each box has 4 packs of 5 cards each, so you’re sure to blow through them pretty quickly. By contrast, the Donruss hobby box has 10 cards of 18 packs (180 cards) and Optic has 20 packs of 4 cards (80 cards), so you’re getting significantly fewer cards. 

Of the 20 cards per box, you can expect a good mix of acetate Rated Rookies, inserts, base cards and autographs. Again, this is all the cards that you’d pull from Donruss, just see-through.

Here’s how the hobby box breaks down, according to Panini. 

2022 Clearly Donruss Hobby Box

  • 4 packs
  • 5 cards per pack
  • 1 autograph
  • 2 parallels
  • 8 base
  • 8 rated rookies

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Of the Parallels, look for:

  • Gold
  • Mosaic Holo
  • Purple – /175
  • Blue – /99
  • Orange – /75
  • Red – /49
  • Green – /25
  • Black – /10
  • Gold Holo – /5
  • Platinum Holo – 1/1
A Mahomes Red Parallel

2022 Clearly Donruss checklist info

All the cards from the Panini Clearly Donruss Football hobby box feel like familiar faces thanks to the years of print-run of the Donruss set.

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For inserts, the difference is that Panini got really clever and put “Clearly” in front of all the popular insert sets. Inserts include Clearly My House!, Clearly The Rookies, Clearly Champions, Clearly The Rookies and Clearly Highlights.

Much like the basketball product did with Luka and Zion, there are also Rated Rookie tribute cards that feature acetate re-creations from some of the most iconic rookies in the NFL’s recent history from stars such as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes II, Lamar Jackson and many more.

The case hits are once again clear versions of the Donruss cards: Gridiron Marvels, Night Moves, Downtown, and the all-new case hit, Nu-Clear, and there are also 1/1 Holo Platinum parallels.

Value of sealed 2022 Clearly Donruss

2022 Clearly Donruss hobby boxes are releasing at $180/box, but are they worth that price? Let’s look at some recent sales numbers (as of 4/16)

  • 2021 Donruss: $300
  • 2021 Clearly Donruss: $177.50
  • 2022 Donruss: $220

Last year’s Clearly product is approximately two-thirds the value of the flagship Donruss brand, after the dust has settled. If the same were true this year, the Clearly 2022 would be selling for about $140 instead of $180. That alone, combined with a weaker rookie class, makes this sealed product a stay-away.

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For 2022, I’d much rather buy Donruss at $220 than Clearly at $180. Whether that’s a hold or a rip.

And if you’re buying to rip, there are cautions flags all over. For one, the rookie cards don’t fair too great on their own (more on that in the next section), so your chance at making money back comes down to the autograph and two parallels unless you happen to pull a case hit.

As far as we can tell, all the autographs will be rookies, and that’s a big win. But you’ll still have to get incredibly lucky on the pull to hit a big-name rookie auto. If you really want one, you’ll be better off buying one on eBay and getting exactly what you’re after. 

All in all, this is not a good rip.

Investing in 2022 Clearly Donruss

Let’s look at some recent sales data (4/16/2022):

2020 Joe Burrow PSA 10 Rookie:

  • Donruss: $145
  • Donruss Optic: $185
  • Clearly Donruss (from Chronicles): $150 

2021 Trevor Lawrence PSA 10 Rookie:

  • Donruss: $70
  • Donruss Optic: $135
  • Clearly Donruss (from Chronicles): $100

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Now, considering the selling prices I listed above for the hobby boxes and the number of cards per box, note that Donruss Clearly cards cost at least 6x as much per card as their Donruss or Optic brethren, but they don’t even sell for twice as much.

Moreover, Optic rookies are more valuable than Clearly straight up.

Bearing that in mind, don’t invest in Clearly singles. Grab Donruss or Optic instead. It’s a lot better bang for the buck.

Bottom line: Is 2022 Clearly Donruss a rip, hold or pass?

2022 Clearly Donruss Football is not a rip. The only chance you get your money back is getting exceptionally lucky with a nice rookie autograph of case-hit, save the one-off chance of pulling a low-numbered parallel. There are boxes that will contain more than $250 of cards, but 9 out of 10 of them will not. 

It’s not a hold, either. If you’re thinking of investing in it, you’d be better off buying sealed products or singles of the Donruss or Donruss Optic products instead. Those have withstood the test of time and established themselves as staples in the hobby.

And that leaves one option: the pass.

Clearly Donruss might be a fun twist on a popular product, but sadly it falls flat on crossing all the investment boxes. If you buy this product, do it to have fun. Not to make money.

What do you think of 2022 Clearly Donruss? Share your thoughts on Twitter @card_lines

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