European League of Football: Top 5 pre-season MVP candidates

Four new teams, three new star quarterbacks, two more countries, and one eager fan base – the European League of Football’s kickoff can’t come soon enough. Pre-season hype is in full effect as many new talents enter the league, along with established stars from last season. 

The mix of players makes the MVP race an interesting side plot for fans to follow this season as the season evolves. So, before the players even hit the field, let’s take a look at five players who are set up to take home the league’s highest individual award.

5: Salieu Ceesay QB Hamburg Sea Devils

Last year, the homegrown passer threw for 134 yards and one score. Not exactly MVP numbers. While his stats don’t raise eyebrows, league commissioner Patrick Esume would love nothing more than to have a German quarterback win MVP for the league’s marquee franchise in Hamburg. Ceesay is a dynamic athlete who can hurt defenses with his legs or his arm making him a capable dark horse MVP candidate. Now named the starter, Ceesay will have two D1 receivers and a host of European talent around him to maximize his abilities, giving him a solid chance at the league’s top honor. 

4: Sean Shelton QB Tirol Raiders

At the ripe age of 30, Shelton may not look like an MVP candidate. Yet it’s hard to argue with his dominant career in Austria. Shelton has amassed four championships in the Austrian Football League, often willing his team to victory with any means necessary. Whether the veteran tucks the ball and runs himself or delivers a dime to his revamped receiver core, Shelton always seems to come through in the clutch. Don’t expect that to change this year. 

Photo: Swarco Raiders

3: Jakeb Sullivan QB Frankfurt Galaxy

Last year, Sullivan was one of the league’s most exciting players to watch. The dynamic dual-threat passer led the Galaxy to a nearly perfect season and hoisted the inaugural ELF title. If it wasn’t for Madre London’s video game numbers, Frankfurt’s quarterback would’ve been the likely choice for MVP in 2021. Although Frankfurt look to be reloaded for another title run, Sullivan may have to carry a heavier load this season as the Galaxy lost several key offensive weapons in the off-season.

2: Justice Hansen QB Wroclaw Panthers

No quarterback in Europe has the resume stateside that Hansen brings to Poland this summer. The former Sun Belt conference player of the year, spent time in the NFL and CFL before signing with Wroclaw. Hansen was on draft boards across the NFL after he accounted for 44 touchdowns and 4,382  yards his junior year with the Arkansas State Redwolves (NCAA D1). There’s no doubt that Hansen has the talent to be the league’s best gunslinger, however, we‘ll need to see how he adjusts to the subtle differences of the European game. The D1 star now joins a Wroclaw offense that returns most of its core with the addition of former Louisiana Tech (NCAA D1) receiver Malik Stanley.

1: Jackson Erdmann QB Vienna Vikings

Expectations are high in Vienna as the Vikings have brought in a long list of talented imports. Offensive newcomers include All-Europe pass catchers in tight end Adria Botella and receivers Weston Carr, Jordan Bouah, and Florian Bierbaumer. Armed with weapons galore and potentially the league’s best offensive line, the former NCAA DIII player of the year has all the tools to build an MVP season. Erdmann’s talent was on the NFL radar recently working out for the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings last fall. 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football