Two New York Giants players, safety Landon Collins and wide receiver Sterling Shepard, were named to the NFL Players Association 2017 Rising 50 list.
The NFLPA provides an explanation of what the Rising 50 list is.
“The ranking was developed by evaluating on-field performances during the 2016 season, fantasy football popularity, early demand from NFLPA sponsors and licensees, as well as new faces in strong markets. To be considered for inclusion, players must not have appeared in any previous quarterly or year-end list of the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales.”
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Collins was ranked 35th on the list while Shepard was ranked 28th.
Collins, a second-year player from Alabama, finished 2016 as the only player in NFL history with more than 100 tackles, more than two sacks, at least five interceptions, and a minimum of 12 passes defended. He was named First-team All-Pro and a finalist for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Shepard, a rookie out of Oklahoma, had 65 receptions for 683 yards and eight touchdowns.
Collins had a better season than Shepard last year and is better at his position. Shepard was ranked higher because offense sells when it comes to marketing. The NFLPA Rising 50 list is not completely about production on the field, though productivity only helps a player’s marketability.
Nine of the top 10 players in the NFLPA 2017 Rising 50 play on the offensive side of the ball. The only exception is Cleveland Browns defensive end (and No. 1 overall pick) Myles Garrett. Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson was No. 1 on the list followed by a trio of running backs: No. 2 Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons), No. 3 Jay Ajayi (Miami Dolphins), and No. 4 Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears).
The placement of Collins and Shepard on the NFLPA Rising 50 list is good news for the Giants. They are representative of a youth movement. Collins is 23 years old while Shepard is 24. Star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr, is also 24 years old.
The Giants can use their young core (13 projected starters are age 25 or younger) to sell merchandise and attract new fans. Marketing success can also translate to success on the playing field.