AFI has ranked the ELF quarterbacks from 1 to 17 with a few surprises!

With the European League of Football kickoff just around the corner, and teams in various stages of training camp, it’s a good time to take a look at the quarterbacks who have been signed to start for each squad.

Some of the player names may be familiar but not necessarily in association with their current teams. Our top-ranked candidate for example, Zach Edwards, now with the Paris Musketeers, was outstanding in 2022 while playing for the Barcelona Dragons in Spain. However, our number three ranked signal caller, Luke Zahradka, has been a fixture with Italy’s Milano Seamen since 2017 and has led them to multiple Italian Football League titles since then.

Let’s dive in and see how our experts have ranked the 17 quarterbacks in the ELF. Be sure to check out our video rankings at the end.

1: Zach Edwards – Paris Musketeers

After a dominant 2022 season with the Barcelona Dragons in which he arguably should have been named the league MVP, it is only right that Zach Edwards tops our list for this season.  The Minnesota native led the league in passing yards (3,325) and passing touchdowns (36) last year, and also proved to be a true dual threat quarterback, as his 549 rushing yards ranked 6th in the league among all players.  Edwards made the move to Paris this offseason and will be joined there by his top receiver Kyle Sweet, who recorded 1,561 receiving yards and 17 receiving touchdowns with Barcelona last season.  Musketeers‘ fans can look to this duo to lead the way for the expansion team in their first season.

2: Jerod Evans – Feverthar Enthroners

A late addition to the league, Evans quickly becomes the European League for Football’s most accomplished passer stateside. The 29-year-old was once the top-rated junior college quarterback before breaking passing records and going toe to toe with Deshaun Watson as a member of the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Since then, Evans has spent time in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers, before embarking on a long and successful Arena Football career with one stop in Japan’s X-League where he won Rookie of the Year.

3. Luke Zahradka – Milano Seamen

Luke Zahradka came to Europe from Bentley University (NCAA, DII) in 2014, and in 2017 joined the Milano Seaman after stints with the Prague Black Panthers, Ancona Dolphins and Amiens Spartiates. Since then, Zahradka has been Mr. Italy whose numbers speak for themself. But just in case you don’t number, he has thrown for 10,738 yards, 152 touchdowns and just 16 interceptions. Taking into account the Italian league plays fewer games than any of the other top leagues in Europe, he is an absolute animal.

In addition to this, Zahradka has achieved all this with a rotating import group and mostly domestic talent. This shows either how underestimated Italian talent is or how brilliant Zahradka. In all likelihood it’s a little of both. It’s shocking he has only won three Italian titles during his five years with the team considering his performance. Zahradka has been arguably the best quarterback in Europe over this stretch and he will likely continue it in ELF at just 31 years old.

4. Preston Haire – Hamburg Sea Devils

After two straight championship losses the ELF”s premiere franchise hopes to finally climb the proverbial mountain top this year. In order to do so they’ve brought in dual threat passer Preston Haire for his first international season. The 5’11 200-lb has an exciting play style that mimics prime Russell Wilson. Haire put that athleticism and accuracy to use as a prolific passer as Oklahoma Baptist University (NAIA), where he broke several school records, including those for career offensive yards, passing yards, passing touchdowns, and total touchdowns.

His stats and impressive testing earned him a mini-camp with the New Orleans Saints, becoming the first player from Oklahoma Baptist to do so.

5. Chris Helbig – Vienna Vikings

Chris Helbig makes his ELF debut this season after tearing up the German Football League with the Potsdam Royals in 2022. In 12 games, he threw for 3,406 yards and 36 touchdowns while leading his team to an undefeated regular season. Originally from Colorado, Helbig played collegiately at Southern Utah University at the Division I FCS level and was on the brink of transferring to Eastern Michigan University at the FBS level before COVID foiled his plans.  Now the 25 year old steps into the ELF and joins the defending champions from Vienna. If he can play like he did with Potsdam last season, the Vikings will be poised for another great season.

6. Collin Hill – Helvetic Guards

Hill brings an impressive resume abroad although injuries plagued his NCAA career. Hill battled three torn ACL’s during his college career but managed to put together three impressive years at Colorado State amassing 23 touchdowns and 3,323 yards between 2016-19. The next season he played for South Carolina in the SEC throwing for 1,411 yards and six touchdowns in eight starts. When healthy, Hill was an outstanding quarterback at the DI FBS level. Now he’ll be paired with star running back Silas Nacita and former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow in Switzerland.

7. Reilly Hennessey – Stuttgart Surge

Hennessey came over to Europe back in 2021 and went on a championship run in Italy with the Parma Panthers, their first in many years. Shortly after the Italian season finished, the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, and then head coach Jordan Neuman, ‘borrowed’ Hennessey for the GFL championship game after losing their starter to injury. This was Henessey’s first meeting with Neuman and the two have since been inseparable.

Despite Hennessey’s numbers being not all that memorable in both his Parma (2021) and Schwäbisch Hall (2022) championship runs, he was one of the most sought-after quarterbacks this off season. Hennessey has unsurprisingly stayed with Neuman in the move to the Stuttgart Surge and is once again surrounded by one of the best rosters in the league. Hennessey has been drawn to outstanding coaches and teams since coming to Europe, and this year will be no different.

8. Kenyatte Allen – Leipzig Kings

The Leipzig Kings have not been projected to finish high in the league standings this year, but their quarterback Kenyatte Allen, might be a major bright spot for the team. Allen is one of a few quarterbacks that have made the move from the German Football League to the ELF for this season. With the Allgäu Comets last season, he threw for 3,342 yards and 43 touchdowns while remarkably only throwing four interceptions. He also showed the ability to use his legs, as he added 244 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. The native of Georgia will look to make a fast impact on the league and potentially help the Kings surprise some doubters.

9. Jakeb Sullivan – Frankfurt Galaxy

The lone ELF champion on the list comes in at number nine after the Galaxy followed up their 2022 championship with a disappointing 2022 campaign narrowly missing the playoffs. Sullivan’s stats looking back were still very impressive as he threw for 2,930 yards and 31 touchdowns and only tossed seven interceptions. Sullivan now enters his third season in Frankfurt looking to get the Galaxy back into true title contention.

10. Donovan Isom – Berlin Thunder

The Berlin Thunder have a new quarterback this season in Donovan Isom, who they picked up from the Berlin Rebels of the GFL across town.  In 10 games with the Rebels last season, Isom passed for 2,686 yards and 26 touchdowns while throwing just four interceptions.  At 6’5” and 250 pounds, Isom has a massive frame that is unique for the quarterback position.  Though not exceptionally quick, he is a very powerful runner, which he showed last year by scoring 10 rushing touchdowns, many of which coming in short-yardage situations.  With a talented receiver corps in Berlin, the American could definitely make a splash this year as he looks to lead the Thunder to the playoffs for the first time.

11. Jadrian Clark – Rhein Fire

A familiar face for ELF fans, Clark returns to the Rhein Fire for 2023 looking to help Jim Tomsula’s team break through from playoff contention to true championship contenders. Clark will have a stacked roster this year as he looks to continue the momentum he built in Düsseldorf last season leading the league in passing yards per game.

However, Clark will have to prove once again he can win the big games as expectations have reached an all-time high for the Rhein Fire this preseason.

12. Christian Strong – Raiders Tirol

The Canadian Brett Farve some call him. Christian Strong is the dictionary definition of a gunslinger. In two seasons in the GFL with the Cologne Crocodiles, Strong managed to put up an outstanding 6,840 yards and 70 touchdowns.

His willingness to launch the ball downfield however comes with some risks as in 2021 he threw 17 interceptions. In addition to this, Strong was also throwing to two Americans both years due to his Canadian-British passport leading to him not being counted as an American in the GFL. He will be coming into a very different situation in Raiders Tirol who have spent many years relying on timing and precision route running from Austrian receivers.

Strong’s ability to adapt to a new situation may be what determines his success in 2023.

13. Conor Miller – Barcelona Dragons

Conor Miller has the tough task of replacing Zach Edwards on the Barcelona Dragons.  Miller joined the Leipzig Kings midway through the 2022 ELF season.  In three games with the team, he recorded 541 passing yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions before suffering an injury.  Prior to joining the Kings, he played with the powerhouse La Courneuve Flash in the French league, who he guided to the league championship in a dominant season.  Though the Dragons won their conference last year, they lost a lot of key talent on both sides of the ball, so Miller will have to play really well in order to replicate last season’s success.

14. Chad Jeffries – Munich Ravens

Jeffries was the face of the Danube Dragons for four years in the Austrian Football League and managed to help the team capture the title in 2022, proving to be one of the most successful quarterbacks in league history. His AFL numbers speak for themselves with 10,271 passing yards and 105 touchdowns as well as 1,465 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.

One man who saw the value of Jeffries was Ravens’ general manager and longtime Raiders Tirol quarterback Sean Shelton. Jeffries’ play style has been marked by an ability to escape the pocket and extend plays. This will be needed in Munich as the team has been built up from nothing and will likely lack cohesion. One thing Jeffries does have going for him though is one of the most dynamic and explosive receivers in the league in Markell Castle.

15. Shazzon Mumphrey – Prague Lions

Mumphrey has moved around with different teams since coming to Europe but seemed to find a home with the Prague Lions last year who kept him on after he led them to a Czech championship in 2022.

Mumphrey has shown that he has a cannon for an arm and an ability to pick up first downs with surprising athleticism, but his numbers do not overwhelm. In 2022, he ranked mid-table in the Czech league, which is not considered to be one of the strongest leagues in Europe and managed just 22 touchdowns in seven games. If the Lions are to be successful in their first year in ELF, we will need to see more from Mumphrey.

16. Dylan Jacob – Cologne Centurions

A late addition to the list, Jacob signed with the Centurions just last week after Daniel Smith suddenly retired.  The 24-year-old native of Colorado was planning on joining the Cologne Crocodiles of the GFL for this season but was left without a team when the team suspended their operations for the upcoming season.  Fortunately for both him and his new team, a match was made when the Centurions had their quarterback position open up.  Relatively inexperienced and unproven, we shall see what he can accomplish with a subpar roster this season.

17. Nik Rango – Wroclaw Panthers

It is hard to place Rango as he hasn’t played competitive football since 2018 when he played a season for Hudson Valley Community College. In one year with the team, he threw for 2,098 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. This is where Rango’s competitive football experience finishes. This is definitely a puzzling addition for Wroclaw.

In addition to this offbeat quarterback signing, the Panthers have lost a number of key players, including one of the best defensive players in Goran Zec, which will only add to their woes. Considering the Panthers did such a stellar job last year finding multiple quarterbacks after injuries, it’s a head scratcher that they take such a risk on the most important player on the field.

Rango could be the next Tom Brady for all we know, but it is far more likely that he will struggle in his first football game in five years and the Panthers may be shopping for a new quarterback midseason.

With contributions from Alex Malchow, Daniel Mackenzie and Carter Anderson.

Check out Cover 7’s Show breaking down the rankings here:


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