Note: This article was originally written in October 2022 so some of the pricing data may be not up to date.
Not only does Patrick Mahomes dazzle with eye-popping plays every single game – he’s also put together the most impressive quarterback resume of any 27-year-old, ever.
While Mahomes will need a few more titles to end up in the GOAT debate, he’s off to an incredible start and his cards can still climb in price and value (although perhaps not as much as Josh Allen).
Much like we recently did with Justin Herbert, in this article we are ranking the top 10 Patrick Mahomes rookies. Mahomes was a rookie in 2017, and while there were a lot of cards printed that year, there are still significantly fewer variations for Mahomes cards than there are 2020 Herberts. With fewer options, finding the right one is crucial.
With Mahomes a perennial MVP contender, we wanted to identify the top 10 cards to invest in. The list works for raw or ungraded cards (or cards you buy raw and then grade).
Please note: to make for a more “collectible” list, I didn’t include short-printed cards like the Prizm Stained Glass or any low-numbered autographs. Obviously, a 1-of-1 National Treasures rookie would be better than an Optic rookie, but I’d rather write about cards that all of us can attain if we wanted.
Also note that a rare, numbered parallel of any of the cards on this list would also be considered a better investment than the common variation. For example, a Playoff 1st Down Parallel is better than the base.
There are a lot more Patrick Mahomes rookie cards that look better than this one, but it’s worth including on this list because it is easily the most affordable base rookie any collector can have of Mahomes. Does that mean there’s a ton of them in circulation? Absolutely.
But is it also a Patrick Mahomes rookie that’s affordable enough to start off any young collector (many of which really look up to Mahomes)? Certainly. So the affordability of the Score Mahomes rookie secures it a place on this list.
The Playoff rookie card, which you can shop for right here, is once again a very low-level rookie card. Unlike Score, however, it features Mahomes in his Chiefs jersey, which makes it more attractive to collectors.
It’s another sub-$100 Mahomes rookie if you are to buy it raw, and there are a lot of different parallels that give some better collectability to the more scarce tiers. From 1st Down to 4th Down, there are lower-numbered versions to chase.
The Donruss Rated Rookie is one of the most simple but attractive rookies to hit the market every year. Without the opti-chrome finish, this paper card feels a lot more like the timeless rookies of old, and the iconic Rated Rookie emblem only adds to the nostalgia.
While the Mahomes Rated Rookies still demand a pretty penny, this is probably the most valuable non-opti-chrome Mahomes rookie on the market. If you’re looking to invest in them, I’d consider buying several raw and grading them with an economy service to get some 10s, or just buying 10s on your own if you’re willing to pay more for the guaranteed number.
If you’re looking to invest in something with a lower population, the colored-border parallels of the Rated Rookie demand more of a premium but have a lower supply.
Select Football has three tiers – Concourse, Premier, and Field Level – but Mahomes only has Premier and Field Level rookies. At the base level, the PSA 10 grading populations of those for Mahomes in order is 481 and 96, respectively.
Both have variations that make them rarer, such as the iconic Silver prizm, various colored die-cuts, and even copper, but with such a low print run anyway, these cards don’t come for cheap.
The Donruss Optic Rated Rookie captures the ageless design of the Donruss Rated Rookie and adds opti-chrome. The same concerns for the Donruss Rated Rookie hold true for this card – a large population that’s only worth holding with PSA 10s – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth considering as a Top 10 card for this list.
Optic is arguably the second most popular product (at least at the mid-tier), so the Mahomes rookies are naturally going to be a popular chase. More on these cards later.
There are a lot of different options for a Patrick Mahomes autograph here. So much, even, that I couldn’t narrow it down to just one. I wouldn’t prefer a Cornerstone over an Origins or a Certified, necessarily, unless one was lower than the others.
When you start talking about the numbered Mahomes rookie autographs, the prices immediately start skyrocketing even higher. Autographs from some brands – namely National Treasures, Prizm, Optic, Select, and a few more – will be tens of thousands of dollars and it’s hard to recommend investing in that, so let’s leave it generic: if you can afford a Mahomes rookie autograph, invest in one that makes the most sense with your personal budget.
With such a low population in the PSA 10 (96, as mentioned), the base field level is a very attractive long-term investment. Select is priced and revered very similarly to Optic and Prizm, but the supply of these cards is significantly less than either of the other two flagship opti-chrome brands.
Just like the Field Level, you can go even bigger and better with the parallels of this card if your budget allows, or alternatively, you could invest in a more common tier of this card (such as the premier) if it’s easier on your budget.
This is probably the most iconic Patrick Mahomes rookie autograph, and this spot is reserved for both the Contenders auto and the Contenders Optic auto. You can shop for both right here.
The base (paper) Contenders product is one of the longest-running autograph sets in football, while Contenders Optic takes the charm of Contenders and adds chromium technology. The result is a dazzling autograph that is hard to pull but great to invest in. There are colored variations of this card too – all of which are numbered – so you can invest as your budget allows.
As we discussed in #6, Donruss Optic is nearly as good as it gets when you’re looking for a product most collectors like and chase. It combines a high ceiling of potential with decent accessibility, and that’s why there was never any doubt it would be in the top 2 on this list.
The Holo is the silver prizm version of the base rookie that adds an extra layer of rarity. Taking the Optic Rated Rookie design and adding refractive technology makes for a phenomenal card that I encourage anybody to check out (and population reports always reveal a significantly less amount of Optic Holos than Silver Prizms).
I added “parallels” here with the numbered versions in mind. Yes, they’ll cost more… but they’ll also be even more valuable in the future.
Silver Prizm rookie cards are almost always going to be #1 on any Top 10 collecting list for modern athletes. The obsession for Silver Prizms doesn’t even always make sense – sometimes they’re priced even higher than more scarce, non-numbered Prizm colors.
No matter how you look at it, though, the Silvers are the baseline currency of modern sports card investing. With 2017 in particular for Prizm NFL, note that all the rookies are silver. This is a stark contrast to the next year, which nearly overcorrected and made the silver base rookies incredibly rare, but the higher population doesn’t negatively impact the price.
Ask any 12-year-old who their favorite player is and there’s a decent chance it’s Patrick Mahomes. He’s the face of the NFL for many young collectors, and he’ll represent football to an entire generation – much like Tom Brady has done for many of us. While his cards are already expensive, investing in them now could still lead to long-term returns.
What do you think of Patrick Mahomes? What will his cards be worth in 5 years? Let us know on Twitter @card_lines and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, which brings investment advice and industry news straight to your inbox twice a week.
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