AFI’s Way Too Early ELF Power Rankings: The Complete List (1-17)

With under two months to go before ELF kickoff, AFI’s panel of European League of Football (ELF) experts have put together their list of the top teams heading into the league’s third season.

Our panel rankings are based on their predicted standings next season, as another thrilling off-season meant four new expansion franchises, and a host of new talent joining the ELF. Let’s take a look at the power rankings.

Cologne gets the short end of the stick so far this off-season as the Centurions recently parted ways with head coach Khalil Carter. While they have a capable replacement in 2021 GFL Coach of the year Christos Lambropoulos, Cologne has lost several of its star German players to the nearby Rhein Fire and other teams this off-season.

Cologne moved on from stars of the past such as German quarterback Jan Weinreich and receiver Quinton Pounds, signing former Villanova dual threat passer Daniel Smith and ex-Istanbul Rams receiver Terryon Robinson, along with ELF All-star linebacker Zachary Blair as they look to compete in a tough Western Conference.

Check out AFI’s Cover 7 State of Franchise – Cologne Centurions Episode Here:

The Kings have shown flashes during their two years in the ELF that they can potentially push to be a dangerous playoff  team. However inconsistent play has marked the expansion franchise since their berth. After parting ways with head coach Fred Armstrong, former NFL player John Booker takes over in Leipzig, bringing back star defenders AJ Wentland, Roedion Henrique, and Aslan Zetterberg.

New faces to the program include GFL All-Star quarterback Kenyatte Allen along with former Western Illinois standout tailback Steve Mcshane. Allen was one of the top passers in the GFL last season and could be dangerous if paired with the capable weapons, yet those weapons are currently a mystery.

Expectations in Barcelona have dropped after their historic semi-finals run last year. Much of the stars of the 2022 have moved on as head coach Andrew Weidinger, quarterback Zachary Edwards, and receiver Kyle Sweet have all signed elsewhere. Spanish talents have also joined the exodus as breakout defender Alejandro Fernandez and several others have signed for other teams in 2023.

The new era of the Dragons will be led by Mexican head coach Gabriel Martinez, who brings with him experienced quarterback Conor Miller as well former NFL and XFL receiver Austin Duke and ex-Ohio State defensive end Darius Slade. However, with several Spanish players opting for other teams the Dragons depth will be a question mark heading into the season, especially in the trenches.

Our first expansion team on the list, the Lions enter the ELF with a lot of prove and doubters galore. After dominating the Czech league over the past decade, the Prague hopes to take that success, into the international stage. The Lions were competitive on the international stage in 2022 making it to the CEFL Cup final before loosing to the Fehervar Enthroners who they will meet agian in the ELF this season.

The head coach Zach Harrod is bringing back quarterback Shazzon Mumphrey as well as adding several Czech talents to his championship core. former Cal Golden Bear Victor Wharton III also joins the Lions with dominant Japanese League All-Star James Brooks  and several intriguing European imports.

Coming in at number 13 the league’s Swiss Franchise joins the ELF looking to make some noise in the central conference. The Guards made plenty of waves this off-season already by signing former USC offensive coordinator and Hawaii head coach Norm Chow to lead their inaugural season. They followed that up by signing a quarterback with the  league’s top NCAA pedigree in former Colorado State and South Carolina starter Collin Hill. The import class only got better as Chow helped bring in and former Tennesse Titan defender Jr Tavai and luring former German Football League star Silas Nacita out of retirement.

Hill battled injuries in his college career and his health is certainly a question mark going into 2023. That, along with a Swiss team will have to rely domestic talent making a huge jump in the level of play coming from the NAL to the ELF.

The Enthroners join the ELF after being the class of american football in Hungary for the past several season’s. They will be led by former BYU coach Jaime Hill as the veteran coach has helped build the Enthroners into one of the top programs in Eastern Europe.

The Enthroners recently parted ways with quarterback Gabriel Cunningham who was seen as one of the top signings of the off-seasons after Cunningham put together a strong end to the 2022 season with the Leipzig Kings. Hill and Enthroners management will now have to scramble to find a replacement quarterback to lead their talented offense with just two months to go before the season.

 Key import players include speedy American receiver Jay Griffin IV and Hungarian cornerback David Toth.  We shall see how the team will perform on this new stage.

The Ravens join the list as the second highest ranked expansion team finishing just outside of top ten rankings. The trust that our voters have in Munich comes from the Ravens management hitting the recruiting trail hard signing several of the GFL south’s top free agents as they look to become the top team in the Bavarian region. So far the Ravens have plucked top southern German talents such as Dominic Siegel, Junior Nkembi, Patrick Engelhardt, and Johannes Zirngibl.

The import class also features some of the top veteran on the market as the Ravens have signed ELF-All Star and former Clemson standout Darius Robinson, as well as former Milano Seamen star Markell Castle, perhaps one of the top receivers in Europe. They’ve also added Irish tail back Tomiwa Oyewo and linebacker Amin Black. Head coach John Shoop will look for Chad Jeffries to lead his squad at quarterback as the veteran of the Austrian Football League makes the jump to the ELF.

After a mediocre 5-7 season last year, the Panthers brought in a new head coach in longtime college coach Dave Christensen.  With new acquisitions like quarterback Nik Rango, receiver Brenton Martin, and safety Artevius Smith, Wroclaw is seeking to make it back to the postseason.

Milano Seamen joining the ELF from the Italian Football League, the Seamen might seem to be a bit of a wild card this season.  They have a veteran quarterback in Luke Zahradka, an American who has been playing in Europe since 2014, and with the Seamen since 2017.  In the offseason, Milan brought in one of the top receivers in the league in Jean Constant, who spent last year with the Hamburg Sea Devils.  With a roster full of depth and experience, it would not be a surprise if the Seamen made an immediate impact in their new league.

Check out AFI’s Cover 7 State of Franchise – Milano Seamen Episode Here:

The Thunder had a solid season last year at 7-5, but that was not good enough for the team to make the postseason for the first time.  However, they have had a busy offseason and looked to be primed to make a run at the playoffs in 2023.  Berlin will have a new quarterback in Donovan Isom, an American who spent last season in the same city with the Berlin Rebels of the GFL.  He’ll have some talented receivers to throw to in Max Zimmerman, Aaron Jackson, and Robin Wilzeck.  Their hope is that their passing game will put up lots of yards and points, while their running game and defense (led by Kyle Kitchens) will do their part as well.

Check out AFI’s Cover 7 State of Franchise – Berlin Thunder Episode Here:

The Raiders made the playoffs last year in their first season in the league, making 2022 a successful year.  Sean Shelton, their quarterback who won the MVP last season, has retired, and the team has replaced him with Christian Strong, a Canadian who spent the past two seasons with the Cologne Crocodiles of the GFL.  The team also brought in receiver Jarvis McClam, an American receiver who has played with Strong for several years.  With a lot of homegrown talent in the mix, the Raiders are looking to have another strong year.

Check out AFI’s Cover 7 State of Franchise – Raiders Tirol Episode Here:

After winning the championship in the league’s first season, the team took a step back in 2022 and missed the playoffs.  They are bringing back a lot of their key players from last season, including quarterback Jakeb Sullivan and receivers Reece Horn and Lorenz Regler.  Unfortunately for them, they’ll have to compete in a tough Western Conference which features the Fire, Sea Devils, and Musketeers.

The Sea Devils were a one-trick-pony last year: an outstanding run game and suffocating defense. Their formula was so finely tuned that they made their way to the final for a second year in a row. But their predictability in the final proved to be their undoing as they had little else to offer when the run-game got stuffed.

This year however, the Sea Devils have diversified. They have brought in European coaching veteran Brett Morgan as their Offensive Coordinator to add a level of dynamism the team hasn’t seen before.

Despite losing some key Europeans on both sides of the ball, the team has added a number of Germans with college experience as well as former Oklahoma Baptist (NCAA, DI) quarterback Preston Haire and former NFL, CFL and XFL defensive back Deion Harris.

Check out AFI’s Cover 7 State of Franchise – Hamburg Sea Devils Here:

ELF’s two most exciting players to watch last year were arguably quarterback Zach Edwards and receiver Kyle Sweet. The pair tore the league up and forged the way for the Barcelona Dragons to the playoffs in 2022. Both Sweet and Edwards are now sitting in Paris as part of the new kid on the block.

Paris has often been referred to as an untapped source for talent and athleticism in Europe. It will be on Head Coach Marc Matiolli to mold what should be one of the most explosive teams in ELF. The Paris Flash will undoubtedly make up a large percentage of the team’s roster due to proximity, but with French football often flying under the radar, on the whole the team remains somewhat of an unknown. 

Check out AFI’s Cover 7 State of Franchise – Paris Musketeers Here:

For anyone who watched the first two years of ELF and ignored the off-season, Stuttgart sitting at three would be bewildering as they only won two games. But what the Surge have done is remarkable. They have effectively convinced the European powerhouse Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns to pack their bags and head down the road to Stuttgart.

The charge will be led by former Unicorns Head Coach Jordan Neuman (who last year strongly sided with the GFL over the ELF) who has pulled out his black book on contacts and corralled all the best players who have ever passed through Schwäbisch Hall. On top of this, they have the standouts that played for the Surge last year too.

Despite the team having gone through an overwhelmingly tumultuous past 12 months, Neuman will surely be the man to help them weather the storm and come out the other side as ELF’s dark horse.

Check out AFI’s Cover 7 State of Franchise – Stuttgart Surge Here:

The Vienna Vikings were the most complete team in the ELF in 2022. This showed dividends as they cruised their way to the championship game, and ultimately the title. 

To make matters worse for their opponents, they haven’t actually lost any of the team that got them there, and if anything, added a quarterback in Chris Helbig who can offer their offense more dynamism. The only reason they precariously sit at number two is because the other teams in the league have had such aggressive off-seasons.

Check out AFI’s Cover 7 State of Franchise – Vienna Vikings Here:

The Fire began last season on a high but their 2022 season was quickly derailed following a quarterback change that they never really recovered from. However, this past off-season the Fire have come out guns blazing and secured some of the best talent in Europe to help bolster an already solid American import group.

With the signings the Fire have made, there will be little they can’t do on either side of the ball, and with former NFL Head Coach Jim Tomsula and the biggest fanbase in Europe, the ELF Championship will be theirs to lose this year.

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and