ELF: West Offseason gradings

We continue with our look at how the teams in the European League of Football have progressed so far with their off season acquisitions.

With the expansion of the ELF, the pool of quality players available is shrinking so teams have had to adjust and cast their nets even further afield. This has forced teams to double down on their efforts and the daily announcements of new player signings from throughout Europe and elsewhere is proof that the work of the scouting departments is bearing fruit.

Let’s take a look at how six teams from the western parts of the league have fared so far this offseason.

Paris Football Team – A+

Based in talent rich but underexposed France, expectations were high when the Paris Football Team was announced for the 2023 European League of Football (ELF) season. Since then, however, they have done nothing but deliver.

Paris’ first official signing was Head Coach Marc Matiolli who not only has an impressive resume state-side but also in Italy where he won an Italian Bowl in his first season with the Parma Panthers, making it their first in nearly a decade.

The next three signings were no less significant with quarterback Zach Edwards and receiver Kyle Sweet, the two most impactful and dynamic weapons this year. In addition to that the receiving core has been bolstered with domestic talents Remi Bertellin and Cheikhou Sow, the former being a teammate of Edwards in 2021.

On the defensive side of the ball the two major signings have been Dauson Dales, who led the Italian league in tackles earlier this year, and Digaan Gomis Katchanga who has spent the last few years in the Canadian college league at Bishop’s University, Quebec.

This is just a small sample of the signings that Paris has made since November, there will undoubtedly be more. If Head Coach Matiolli can bring this loaded roster together, they will surely challenge for the title in their first year.

Barcelona Dragons B-

The Dragons lost Kyle Sweet and Zach Edwards this off-season, their two most productive players. These are nearly unfillable holes that the Dragons may have to learn to deal with the hard way in 2023. These exits in addition to their mid-season parting with Andrew Weidinger has raised a few eyebrows recently.

Their saving grace, however, has been the signing of defensive end Slade Jarman who was an absolute beast in his senior year at South Florida (NCAA, DI). Despite two years away from football Jarman will undoubtedly be called upon to be the anchor of the Dragons defense. Who will run the offense remains to be seen.

Stuttgart Surge – A+

The best way to turn a German football team around is to bring in one of the most successful coaches in German football history – enter Jordan Neuman.

Neuman’s exit from arguably the best team in Europe – the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns – to the ELF after championing the German Football League (GFL) for so long was shocking to say the least. But this gigantic move by Neuman to ELF shows the final step of the ascendancy of the league over the rest of Europe.

Since arriving in Stuttgart Neuman has been busy, to put it mildly. He has enlisted several big-time domestic names such as receivers Louis Geyer and Yannick Mayr, defensive lineman Alexander Kreß and Simon Butsch, to name a few.

He has also secured key Europeans like Serbian defensive back Goran Zec and Italian offensive lineman Alessandro Vergani who will sure-up any holes the waves of Germans wishing to play for Mr Germany can’t.

And finally, he is bringing with him the quarterback who led the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns to the German title in 2022, Reilly Hennessey. With all this talent and Neuman at the helm it seems the team cannot go in any direction but up.

Helvetic Guards – A

So you’re starting a new football team… What do you need? A quarterback and coach, done and done. The Guards secured former USC, XFL, and Hawaii coach Norm Chow to lead them into their first year of play. Chow promptly hired an impressive staff that brings a ton of experience to Zurich.

At quarterback, Chow went with former SEC and Colorado State quarterback Collin Hill. Hill had an up and down career with the Rams and South Carolina Gamecocks but brings a big arm and lots of experience. So far he’s the most accomplished quarterback to join the ELF as far as NCAA DI experience. 

The Guards have also been able to recruit Swiss talent, signing former NFL Academy linebacker Timothy Shurrmann, ELF All-Star TIm Hanni, Florian Ziegler, and Pascall Ruegg. They also bolstered their offensive signing former NFL IPP combine invites Gabreil Rodriguez and Amos Laoye.

Cologne Centurions – C

After a disappointing season two, the Centurions parted with head coach Frank Roser and quarterback Jan Weinreich. New coach Khalil Carter has his hands full as the team has already announced the departure of several key homegrown contributors.

Worse yet, many of the talented German players in the Cologne area are traveling north to join former NFL head coach Jim Tomsula and the trending Rhein Fire

Positively, Cologne has brought in offensive coordinator Christos Lambropoulos, the 2022 German Football League coach of the year. The Centurions have brought back safety Chad Walrond and also signed ELF All-Star Zachary Blair to bolster their defense.

To help them up front they’ve also signed Spanish football veteran Carlos Carrasco and 6 ’8″ Romanian talent Rares Gheorghiu. Two talented but relatively unproven British talents in receiver Kris Wedderburn and edge defender Jai Albert Jackson are also headed to Cologne.

There have been some positive steps for the new look Centurions so far. But they will need to retain German talent and find a quarterback to help them compete in 2023. 

Rhein Fire – C

The Fire have managed to keep hold of household name and former NFL Head Coach Jim Tomsula along with acquiring offensive coordinator Andrew Weidinger from the Barcelona Dragons this off-season. But what do they have to work with?

The Fire have added outstanding young defensive end Alejandro Fernandez in addition to Cologne linebackers Flamur Simon and Marius Kensy which will surely help an already solid defense, but there has been little movement on offense.

Despite ranking third in total yards, the team struggled to get it over the line and ranked middle of the pack in scoring. To push them into a playoff team they will need to bring in a few more offensive weapons for quarterback Jadrian Clark to work with, allowing him to not have to rely on explosive plays to win games.

Dusseldorf is an attractive prospect for any import, it is unlikely they will struggle to bring talent in, it just remains to be seen who will fill the last few spots for the Fire.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He played for the London Warriors for 15 years as well as Team Great Britain .