Wood, Cierre

Card: Panini Contenders 2013
Acquired: 2017, EBay

Cierre Wood was a solid runningback for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish from 2010-2013. In his Sophomore year he led the team with 603 yards on 119 carries, scoring 3 TDs. He also displayed nice hands out of the backfield with 20 receptions for 170 yards and 2 TDs. Cierre put together a solid Junior year, with 1,102 yards and 9 TDs on 217 carries. He returned for his Senior campaign in 2013 and posted 742 yards on 114 carries. Scouts were underwhelmed by Wood’s blocking, questioned his ball security, and were concerned about a suspension for breaking team rules during his Senior season. He went unselected during the 2013 NFL Draft.

Cierre signed with the Houston Texans for 2013. The Texans were in transition at runningback and beginning to seek a future heir for Arian Foster. With Foster oft-injured, Ben Tate locked into the second string job and the departure of Justin Forsett to greener pastures, it was a straight up battle between Dennis Johnson, Cierre Wood, and Ray Graham for the 3rd back spot. In the end Wood won out on the runningback derby.  The Texans kicked off the season 2-0, but then dropped the next 14 games. It was really a snakebitten squad. Injuries abound, quarterback issues, Kubiak having a heart attack during a game- it was just one thing after another. In the midst of the descent Cierre was released with two other players for violating unspecified team rules. He’d finish the season on the practice squad of the New England Patriots.

In 2014, Cierre spent some time on the rosters of both the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks. He joined the Buffalo Bills in 2015 but blew out an ACL, ending his season.  Wood rehabbed and decided to give the CFL a shot, signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2017. In early May he was traded to the Montreal Alouettes but did not make the squad.

Panini’s Contenders set is always pretty solid. I found the split design of this particular card to be both daring and unique as there are very few column grid cards like this one. The photo is touched up well and it’s a solid action shot of Cierre. Even the typography of this card looks good, and there is plenty of space for the autograph.

Blanding, Quin

Card: Panini Contenders 2018
Acquired: 2018, Box Breaker

Quin Blanding played collegially for Virginia from 2014 to 2017. He contributed immediately to the secondary as a true Freshman and racked up impressive numbers. After setting Freshman tackle records with 123 in 2014, he went on to record 115+ tackles in every year he was at Virginia.  Blanding finished his college career with 492 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 16 passes defended, 2 fumble recoveries, and 10 interceptions for 108 yards and a TD.  Highly accoladed, Blanding earned the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Award (2014), Freshman All-American (2014), first-team all-conference honors (2015), and All-ACC Honors (2016, 2017).

So even though the numbers and accolades spoke for themselves, scouts soured on Blanding’s speed, and lack of ‘game-breaking’ presence. While this would not be a deal breaker in other drafts, the unusually high grade of defensive back talent continued through the 2018 Draft.  I had him sneaking in at the back of round 6 or early in round 7 as a developmental prospect for the Houston Texans, but Quin would go undrafted. He’d sign a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins, but be waived in final cutdowns.

Quin’s autograph is pretty pedestrian- especially for a guy who has a ‘Q’ in it. It really looks more like a signature than an autograph really.  The card itself is broken up well into 3 main sections: Player portrait, player stats, and player autograph. It’s a nice looking card, but I feel like the player portrait is a bit busy and overproduced.

Goforth, Randall

Card: Panini Contenders 2017
Acquired: 2017, Box Breaker

Randall Goforth is a flexible defender that has the chops to play either safety or corner. A 3 year starter at UCLA, he posted 4 interceptions, nine pass breakups, 57 tackles, and three tackles for loss in 2016. While he displayed excellent footwork, most scouts pegged Goforth as a guy who needed to be in the right system to fit his skillset. Randall went undrafted in 2017 but was signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles. In July of that year he’d blow out his ACL ending his season before it began. A year later Randall was cut by the Eagles, but looks to rejuvenate his career as he signed with the Phoenix Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football, set to start in early 2019.

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