ELF: Top 5 U25 Defensive Skill Position Players

The last rendition of this series was very hard to do given the amount of U25 talent in the trenches of the European League of Football.

It was even more difficult to narrow it down to only five players, hence the delay in production because it didn’t feel right to leave some of these players off.

The defenses of the ELF are young, experience is less sought after than the offensive counterpart and with the league having a mix of European and American stars there is a variety of players, making it one of the most exciting lists to date.

Let’s get straight into it.

Maceo Beard – Helvetic Guards

Maceo could very well make history as the first European and first player not named Kitchens to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. The French safety started strong and has only gotten better as the season has progressed, with Ken Hike Jr. on the other side of the defense Beard has been able to take advantage of QBs and as a result, he is leading the league in interceptions. His three games with two interceptions each are the most in league history and he has time to increase that record. As the season progressed, he was moved around to the defensive back position. As a result, he has also had a big increase in his pass breakups and has notched two pick 6s.

Ludvig Myrén – Berlin Thunder

Ludvig Myrén Photo: Eric Muehle

Myrén has stood out this season on a defense which has many stars. He set the tone in week one with an all-time performance against the Enthroners and continued to have high production all season in every category. He has career-highs in tackles, sacks and TFLs, given he has played two fewer games this year it shows the development in his game and ability to make an impact all over the field. The 22-year-old Swedish international is one of the most promising players because of his versatility and quickness. His stats from the season paint the picture and tracking him in the game he is used all over that defense.

Dajon Owens – Cologne Centurions

Photo: Marc Junge

As mentioned previously on different lists, Owens is the truth. An aggressive knifing corner who plays physically on the hands of the receivers and plays with a high motor. He has gradually seen more attention through the last weeks with increasing levels of performance and as he is only 23 the former Stony Brook and Colorado State standout has more time to develop his skill set. His season will end in a game against Paris which will be an interesting matchup with Sweet and Larose, so it is certainly one to watch for an entertaining game. He is in line to receive All-Star selection and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him recognised as one of the top corners in the league this season.

Luke Glenna – Barcelona Dragons

Luke Glenna #8 Photo: Barcelona Dragons

The leading tackler in the ELF has to be featured. Glenna has been the main catalyst for the Dragons’ defense. He serves well as a box safety who can make an impact on the run game as well as the pass. His coverage isn’t among the elite safeties, so he has struggled at times on the quicker, faster slot players, but he brings a lot more to the front 7 than he gets credit for. The stats show that he is a presence all over the field: 4 interceptions, 7 breakups, 3 blocked kicks, a fumble forced and recovered and of course, the aforementioned league-leading 125 tackles. The last time he didn’t have more than 10 tackles was back in week 6. Despite the Dragons’ poor record, Glenna has a strong chance at seeing an All-ELF selection.

Timi Nuikka – Wroclaw Panthers

Nuikka was featured on the underrated player list a while back and most people agreed he should have more attention for his performances. Now that he has linebacker A.J. Wentland next to him he is only going to develop further which is incredibly exciting for the league and fans of the ELF. Nuikka tends to play his best football against the best teams. In his two games on the 11-0 Vikings, he had a total of 22 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 TFLs. The same goes for these games against the Thunder and Sea Devils. Clutch performance isn’t a stat that is kept in the ELF just yet, but it could be argued that he is the most clutch defender in the league when it comes to a full game. The 22-year-old isn’t even mentioned in the All-Star voting and that is an injustice to his season, he has more stats and team records than many of the other players who are featured.

In summary…

Overall, any of these players could be switched around, even from the honorable mentions. If someone had the opinion that they were all in the top 5 there would be a really solid argument for it. It was a very challenging breakdown that was chopped and changed several times over. It had to go down to one of the last tiebreakers in individual performance on positive teams in some cases. Naturally, some players fit into their schemes better, have more or less opportunities because of a supporting cast or possibly suffered injuries during the season. However, this is what the data and my film study have concluded, until next time.

Honorable Mentions

Alexander Spillum – Berlin Thunder

Lucky Ogbevoen – Raiders Tirol

Dauson Dales – Paris Musketeers