ELF: Central Europe Off-Season Ratings | Popgen Tech
Graphics: Igor Lazarevic
With the European League of Soccer (ELF) offseason in full swing, we at AFI gathered and graded each team’s signings ahead of the 2023 season.
NB: team regions are based on geography and not the league’s conferences which were announced after this article was written.
Berlin Thunder – A
Re-signing the most feared defenseman in the league is always going to be a great signing. Defensive end Kyle Kitchens should once again be one of the most dominant players in the league in 2023. He will also now be supported in the secondary by ex- NFL and Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns safety Alex Spillum.
Offensively, they made great strides by retaining deep-threat wideout Robin Wilzeck, signing Max Zimmerman as well as one of the most explosive receivers in EuropeAaron Jackson, who recently spent time with the Arizona Cardinals.
With the team boasting one of the most talented receiving corps in the league, GFL transfer quarterback Donovan Isom will lick his chops after a standout year with the Berlin rebels.
Hamburg Sea Devils – B+
The Sea devils was a one-trick pony on offense last year, producing little outside of Glenn Toonga’s devastating runs (in their defence, it worked). They tried to fix that this year with three big additions to their offense: Brett Morgan (offensive coordinator), Gerrit Brandt (left tackle) and Preston Haire (quarterback).
Morgan has already had an impressive career Europe and government side involved in leading countless teams to success. After he entered almost every major league Europe he decided to take on the next challenge and enroll ELEVEN. He will no doubt urge the Sea Devils‘ breach to new levels of production.
It is still unclear if their defense will look like last year. Despite the signing of Northwest Oklahoma State (NCAA, DII) linebacker Maurice Wright Jr, Kasim Edebali and Miguel Boock have all announced their retirements at the end of the year. French safety Kevin Forte is set to return, but star defensive back Just Rogers is set for the XFL.
With Glen Toonga likely to switch allegiances or retire, the team will find it difficult to fill the holes lost this offseason.
Frankfurt Galaxy – B-
After a relatively solid defensive performance in 2022, the star system oddly decided to stack their secondary on the edge. They have former NFL defensive back Jamalcolm Liggins, ex CFL defensive back Tony Anderson and now Nevada (NCAA, DI) alumnus and defensive back BerDale Robinson. These three alone will almost certainly strike fear into opposing quarterbacks. However, how the rest of the team fares is anyone’s guess.
The star system was inconsistent last year to put it mildly and almost lost to the winless Stuttgart Boom left an ugly mark on their reputation. Star quarterback Jakeb Sullivan, who won them their first championship in 2021, is back with the team after missing much of last year due to injuries.
Munich Ravens – B-
The Munich Crows is not just a brand new addition to the ELEVEN but also a brand new team. There are numerous teams in the surrounding area from which the Crows can suck like the Munich Cowboys, Allgäu Comets and Ingolstadt Dukesbut they approached the offseason cautiously.
Director of Sports Operations Sean Shelton was immersed in the Euro soccer scene for years and knows it well. He can undoubtedly take advantage of connections he has made across the continent, but has yet to do so.
The big buys for the team are old Austrian Soccer League rival Chad Jeffries as quarterback and ex Clemson (NCAA DI) captain and defensive back Darius Robinson. The two have shown their worth Europe time and time again but are both at the tail end of their careers.
The Crows will need young talent if they want to last long ELEVEN season. Shelton is sure to make some calls in the coming months.
Milano Seamen – C+
The Milan Seamen it was Italy’s prize-winning possession for years and wins five of the last eight Italian Bowls and appears in all. They have now made their departure from the domestic league and into the ELEVENbut don’t add-Italian talent is not something the team is used to.
Italy’s import rules are strict and allow only one non-Italian on the field at a time (and a dual passport athlete with Italian citizenship). This forced the country’s teams to rely on Italians for years, and it shows a lack of creativity in their signings.
Luke Zahradka successfully led the team for years and was able to enter at the highest level EuropeIt was a no brainer to keep him, but the Seamen stayed in Europe for every other signing so far.
The replacement for Markell Castle, probably the best receiver in Europe, was a long task. The Seamen chose ELEVEN veteran Jean Constant. The electric receiver offers a range of talents, but won’t be the deep threat that Castle gave Milan last year
They also signed another Euro football veteran in 29-year-old Dejvion Steward who most recently suited up for the Ravensburg Razorbacks in the German Soccer League (GFL). The Tiffin University (NCAA DII) defensive back will undoubtedly be a solid addition and some leadership to the Italian team.
The Mariners have taken a safe approach thus far, but that may not be what the team needs. The vast majority of the team have been together for years, language and familiarity make those bonds stronger. What Milan really needs is a high impact import fresh out of college.
Tirol Raiders – C-
Sean Shelton left a big hole when he the Tirol Raiders. The quarterback bled black and white and will be sorely missed Innsbruck after taking the Raiders to several championships. To replace him Tyrol chose Canadian gunslinger Christian Strong and ex CFL offensive lineman Steven Nielson to protect him.
In two seasons for the Cologne Crocodiles in the GFL Strong threw for 6,840 yards, 70 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. His unwavering prowess in the pocket to launch deep balls against secondaries will serve him well with a receiving corps as deep as the Raiders.
Joining Strong will be his teammate Cologne, wide receiver Jarvis McClam. Along with Aaron Jackson and McClam (due to his British citizenship), Strong held the GFL on. However, his occasional carelessness with the ball can bite him a little harder in the ELEVEN than it did Germany.