Pretty much all of you are familiar with Bowman and Bowman Chrome. In the baseball card world, it’s become synonymous with prospecting. The Bowman release has paper cards with some Chrome cards, and features the “1st” cards of top prospects. Then, later on in the year, Bowman Chrome releases, with a similar checklist, some updates and additions, but all Chrome cards — no paper.
In 2021, Topps released Bowman University Football, a set that featured paper and chrome cards, with 1st prospect cards — but Topps didn’t have the college football licensing needed to use team names and logos. So while this release features some 1st Prospect Paper and Chrome autos, all player uniforms are airbrushed, meaning fans of colleges are likely a bit less interested than they normally would be.
Dive into the top 10 most valuable cards from the non-licensed 2021-22 Bowman Football release, as it features the 1st Prospect autos of not only top 2022 NFL rookies, but also top picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Note: Sales data is based on the last 90 days of eBay Sales.
Kenny Pickett 2021 Bowman University #BCPA-KP Chrome 1st Prospect Auto – Superfractor /1 Raw — Sold for $2,650 on November 16, 2022.
The first QB taken in the 2022 NFL Draft to the Steelers at No. 20 overall, Pickett’s SuperFractor 1/1 features a sticker auto, and looks exactly like the classic Bowman Chrome Prospects 1st baseball card design that has become so desirable in the hobby. Despite being unlicensed, the airbrushed uniform and lack of university branding is barely noticeable. What’s interesting about this sale is the date it sold: November 16, 2022, a few days after his best outing as a pro.
Bryce Young 2021 Bowman University #BCPA-BY Chrome 1st Prospect Auto – Red Shimmer /5 PSA 10 — Sold for $2,230 on November 14, 2022
The only recorded sale of this stunning color match card, and the only known in PSA 10, the card features a carefully-selected photo of Young, where little airbrushing is needed to remove the Alabama branding. Should Young succeed in the pros after likely being a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, this card should have some solid long term value as his 1st Prospect Auto.
CJ Stroud 2021 Bowman University #BCPA-CS Chrome 1st Prospect Auto – Orange Shimmer Refractor /25 PSA 10 — Sold for $2,190 on October 29, 2022
While Stroud projects as potentially the best long-term QB prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, he and Young both have licensed Bowman U Chrome Autos in the 2022 release, which could ultimately hurt the value of this card in the long run. It will be very interesting to compare sales data in future years of each set’s /25 PSA 10 autos.
Bryce Young 2021 Bowman University #BCPA-BY Chrome 1st Prospect Auto – Red Shimmer Refractor /5 PSA 9 — Sold for $2,000 on October 30, 2022
It’s not often you see a PSA 9 sell for within 10% of a PSA 10 within a few weeks of one another, but when you consider each of the two cards were /5, it makes more sense.
JJ McCarthy 2021 Bowman University #BCPA-JM Chrome 1st Prospect Auto Gold Lava Refractor /50 PSA 10 — Sold for $1,750 on November 4, 2022
After becoming the Wolverines starting QB in Week 2 of his freshman year in 2022, the 6-foot-3 dual threat dominated the rest of the way, and projects as one of college football’s top QBs in 2023. This card is super interesting, as it checks all the boxes of a solid flier investment, but has an obvious flaw. A Gold Lava Refractor /50 with a fun sticker auto, signed “JJ” and inscribed with a smiley face, but is missing the iconic U-M branding that would have normally attracted most collectors to this card.
Kenny Pickett 2021 Bowman University #BCPA-KP 1st Chrome Prospect Auto Superfractor 1/1 PSA 9 — Sold for $1,830 on December 19, 2022
So this is kind of interesting. If you follow, the first card on this list is the same card, but sold raw for $820 more. After being graded a PSA 9 it lost a bit of value.
Malik Willis 2021 Bowman University #BCPA-MW 1st Chrome Prospect Auto – Orange Refractor /25 PSA 10 — Sold for $1,500 on August 19, 2022
What’s important to notice here is the date of the sale. August is hype cycle season for football cards. Every collector and sports card investor has hope for all of the prospects they expect to pop off, and in this case, Willis was no exception. In spite of the lack of draft capital after falling to the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s also pertinent to mention that during the date of this sale we were still several months away from any pro release of Willis autos hitting the market, making the sale date of this card the perfect one to crystallize profits.
Bryce Young 2021 Bowman University #BCPA-BY 1st Chrome Prospect Auto – Red Refractor /5 PSA 9 — Sold for $1,450 on December 31, 2022
This card was serial numbered 4/5, while the sale above was numbered 5/5. Still, a 28% dip in value just a couple months apart is notable.
CJ Stroud 2021 Bowman University #BCPA-CS – 1st Chrome Prospect Auto – Gold Refractor /50 PSA 10 — Sold for $1,200 on March 28, 2023
The super slick Gold Refractor Auto /50 features the same action shot of Stroud as the Orange /25, and seems like a solid value in PSA 10, selling for just over half of the /25 PSA 10 above.
Will Levis 2021 Bowman University #BCPA-WL – 1st Chrome Prospect Auto – Red Shimmer Refractor /5 PSA 8 — Sold for $1,200 on April 7, 2023
In all of its glorious annual drama, the NFL Draft is imminent, and features the signal-caller from Kentucky, whom many project in a range from No. 2 overall to falling outside the top 10. Should he be a top five pick, expect the value of his 2021 Bowman U Autos to rise throughout the summer as we approach the 2023 NFL Season.
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Paul Hickey is a regular contributor to Sports Card Investor, the creator of the Sports Card Investment Report at NoOffseason.com, and the host of the Sports Card Strategy Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube. He can be found on Instagram at @sportscardstrategy and on Twitter @nooffseasoncard.