Review: 2011 Donruss Elite Football

2011 Donruss Elite football produced by Panini is back this season with all the die-cuts, autographs, and memorabilia you have come to expect from the brand since it was created. Also returning is the foil board design that has made this product stand out from the beginning as well. This product will bring you all the rookies from the recent draft as well as the veterans that you have always love and delivers in that department. It definitely has it’s positives and negatives, but with the right adjustments next year I believe that this product will be capable of returning to it’s former glory.

2011 Donruss Elite football comes with 5 card per pack and 20 packs per hobby box. On average you will find four hits in your box. There are autographs, game used jerseys, and patches available including Panini’s new booklet cards. At a little less than $100, this is now about average for this type of product. Let’s see what we got.




Game Used/Autos:


First we are going to talk about the design and I have a few things to say about that. First, I understand the lack of images because of the lockout. I will not take points off for that, it’s not your fault. Also, Elite has always been a foil board brand so I won’t take points off for that. I’ll start with the rookies. The horizontal rookies just don’t look right. Why the change from a vertical layout I don’t understand. And putting the serial numbering on top of the words on the left? There is so much other room on the card not used you could of put those anywhere else. It’s terrible to try and read. Finally, the huge white box where the autograph stickers go on the rookie could of been made smaller. I know that’s where the die-cut goes but the sticker won’t be on the die-cut anyway as there is plenty of room. Speaking of the die-cuts, a little boring there, but it does allow less of a possibility for damage to be honest so I don’t mind it that much. The inserts are awesome and I actually like the NFL Shield and helmet rookies. The base is boring to me, which means the rookies are also boring to me on the whole. I think those should start again from scratch, but I enjoyed everything else.


If there is one problem I have with the checklist is the 100 rookies. 100 rookies means 100 rookies autographs. With them numbered to 899 you are going to have a ton of rookie autographs. I understand they are cheap, but how many people really collect offensive and defensive lineman? Personally, I would cut those autographs in half and use the left over money for some extra veteran autographs. The veteran autographs you do have though are solid. There is a solid group of veteran autographs you have the possibility of pulling and the Throwback Threads with NFL legends is a great subset as well as Passing the Torch and Down and Distance. Great insert subsets which include autographs and game used pieces. I’m all for cutting down those rookies though.


The number of rookies used and I think just the looks of the rookies alone cut down on value. To the vast majority of collectors, not many want offensive and defensive lineman autographs. They just don’t hold value and aren’t worth the price of the box. I do know that some do, so I think cutting down on these would be a great start. As I said above, use the money towards more veteran autographs. I can’t say anything about photography because of the lockout so I won’t. I’m just really hoping for this lockout to end so I can see players in their actual jerseys on cards this season, otherwise it might be kind of grim which does weigh on value just a little bit on the secondary market. Out of my 4 hits, I hit 3 rookies. Two stickers autographs and an event worn jersey. We all hate sticker autographs and event worn jerseys are just that, event worn. I know the use of the event worn jersey is important for rookies, but when I have 2 sticker autographs to go along with it, it hurts a little bit. This product needs a little more of a veteran presence in the common box break.


Overall, 2011 Donruss Elite is a decent product. It’s definitely good for the period of time it is to get ready for the season but after that there are much better products coming out by all the companies making NFL trading cards. The design needs some work and I would actually either completely re-tool the set from scratch or create something new that Panini can say is originally theirs. The number of rookies and rookie autographs is too large and can use some work on filtering out who and how many players sign. It can allow for some more freedom on the veteran side which I feel this product lacks a little bit.

I’d like to thank Panini for providing this box for me to review. Please visit their various links I have posted around the blog. I don’t get anything for you clicking on them, but they have a GREAT blog and lots of information about their products on their website. I highly recommend it.

And, as always, here I am opening the box so you can see everything pulled as I pull them along with some random commentary and information how to win some of the cards!

And again, for those who don’t want to see my ugly mug for 10 minutes, post your comments about this year’s Donruss Elite in the comments for your chance to win. I’m giving every review I have a contest one week to post.

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14 Responses to Review: 2011 Donruss Elite Football

  1. Rj says:

    I have always loved this set, but with companies using their designs with all sports (to be consistent), I don’t know if I’m a fan of that idea. Tops does it with triple threads and I don’t want to see panini do that. I think they have done well pushing the design envelope, but I look for different designs year to year sport to sport. That said, I will be opening a box or two. It’s not enough to push me over the edge yet.

    • I’ve always loved it too, but the brand is starting to bore me. Although designs slightly change each year, this year isn’t the best design and maybe it’s time to move in another direction with it.

  2. stl5 says:

    I liked the old design of the Donruss Elite baseball cards, but they also had the problem of having too many rookies. All these rookies, too, had serial numbers from 700-999, which lowers the value. They also had tons of autographs. I would like to see more veterans in there, and they should really only sign high profile players to sign cards for them. People these days aren’t looking for the sixth and seventh round picks autos, but the first and second round picks autos that probably will do and heck of a lot better than the last ones picked

  3. Design is definately up to par.. I just really love the direction cards are going in these days.

  4. Nathan says:

    There’s just too much going on with those inserts. The base design is nice, very shiny but also not too crowded. But the inserts just come off as a little bit gaudy.

    The one thing that they could do to make them a little bit more stomachable in my opinion is reduce the font size on all the inserts and especially on the rookie cards.

    Price seems decent for the number of hits you’re getting, though.

    • Really? I like flashy inserts. I’ve heard a lot of your opinion and a lot of mine too. Not really any middle ground. I guess the inserts are just liked or not liked.

      Price is pretty decent, but I still think there’s too many rookies!

  5. Dave says:

    I agree about the pricing. For what your getting for hits is better then average because mostly you get one hit per box and on this you get 4. I myself like the rookie autographs but I agree about the numbering over the word Rookie, it is hard to make out. BUt all in all I do like the product as I always have, sometimes you have to give up a little in design to know you have to make a better one next time because of collectors inputs. I’d still give it a 4 STAR Rating though :-)

  6. Daddyoho says:

    Not a big fan of the foil look or the stickers. All and all looks a bit meh.

  7. Wilf says:

    I’ve never been much of a Donruss fan, but these are decent looking cards.

  8. Shane.K says:

    I very much agree with your point on the checklist you made. Nice review!

  9. Adam Horner says:

    I bought a box of these a week ago. I liked the design alright, but frankly wasn’t too impressed with the return on investment. It feels to me like this should be a 60-70 dollar product and not a 90+.

  10. BA Benny says:

    I like the design and have for a few years on these. I agree 100% on the checklist point, way too many rookie autos to water down the overall product run.

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