European League of Football 2023 Mid-Season Awards – Defense

After seven exciting weeks of action, we have reached the halfway point in the European League of Football (ELF) 2023 regular season. As such we thought we’d take a look at the front runners for the league’s various prestigious awards through the league’s midway point.

Of course, like any football league offense remains in the focal point of award season. Therefore, we’ll start off the mid-season awards by highlighting AFI’s mid-season defensive player of the year and defensive rookie of the year.

Let’s take a look at who our panel selected:

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Timi Nuikka

The Finnish linebacker has been big time performer for the Wroclaw Panthers this season. The 22 year old has put up 58 tackles, two sacks, and five tackles for a loss in his first season outside of his home country. Nuikka has been making a impact week in and week one starting off his ELF debut with a pick six in week one. The former Porvoon Butchers standout defender and receiver has proven himself to be one of the most impactful rookie European defensive players entering the league this season.

Defensive Player of the Year: Kyle Kitchens

One day in a sports bar in Berlin, there might be a trivia question asking, who was the only ELF player to win defensive player of the year three straight seasons? The answer might just be Kyle Kitchens. Since the league’s inception, Kitchens has been the league’s top pass rusher at first for the Leipzig Kings serving up 12 sacks in 2021, followed by an entree 16 sacks for the Berlin Thunder in 2022. This season has been more of the same as Kitchens has been the master chef on a Berlin defense that ranks fourth in the league.

The ELF veteran continues to add to his menu this season heating up with 12 sacks and 20 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and two defensive touchdowns just for some extra spice. If Kitchens can keep serving up this level of play, he’ll destroy the league record of 16 sacks that he set last season.

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