Grading 5 European League of Football Signings – Part 1

It is the start of the signing season in Europe including the European League of Football!

This means that it is also the of my preseason grading, anyone who knows my scouting methods, knows that it is notoriously stringent. As this is the first of the series there are bound to be many highly graded players due to the first players on the team are, as expected the best ones. To be more convenient, this grading system shall be using an A+ – F model in assessing the player additions. This will also only encompass the first signings of the season thus far but there are potentially many renditions that can come every week as the start of the multiple European leagues is in the near future.

Enough with the introduction, let’s get straight into it!

Maceo Beard – Paris Musketeers

Grade: A

Maceo Beard returning an interception for a TD against the Stuttgart Surge. Photo: lars.kauz

It is never a bad thing to sign the current holder of the Defensive Player of the Year award, even more so when they count as a home-grown player. The Musketeers‘ signing of Beard is a clear strategy to counteract the dominant offenses of the Rhein Fire and Munich Ravens that have had great success in the ELF. He will add a lot of turnovers to the defense, having led the ELF last season in interceptions. The critique of Beard’s play is the speed, however. If the Musketeers commit to building a strong zone defense, they can be a serious team. They had so much hype coming into the 2023 season, this might be the year they act on it.

Phillipp Haun – Raiders Tirol

Grade: A

Haun was one of the top two Austrian receivers in the league last season. He is another automatic re-signing who acts as an excellent complementary receiver for whoever they choose to bring in at quarterback. He has one of the most balanced skill sets of all the European receivers and he is also a capable blocker, and route runner and has good hands all over the route tree. Haun was one of the players who established himself best last year, and there is a real argument for him being in the top 5-8 range of European receivers. Great decision.

Marvin Rutsch – Munich Ravens

Grade: A

Rutsch’s signing is incredibly similar to Haun in Tirol. Even down to their skill set and role within their respective teams. Rutsch possibly has some of the best hands league-wide and demands attention from the defenses. He was underrated in the fact he was a reason for teammate Markell Castle’s historic season. Rutsch was an All-Star-level player last season and Jeffries will no doubt be happy to have him back on the field. The positive trend of Rutsch’s career in the ELF is also a stat to be aware of. He has improved and been healthy every year the league has been active. Only now though is he getting the praise he deserves. Let’s see if he can get another step up this season.

Luke Zahradka – Frankfurt Galaxy

Grade: C

Photo: Fabio Castelvetri

Zahradka’s departure from Milano was a surprise that not many saw coming, and the move to the Frankfurt Galaxy further added to the surprise. The debate within the league is whether Zahradka is an upgrade on former Galaxy quarterback, Jakeb Sullivan. In my opinion, it is a downgrade. Zahradka is less accurate, less safe with the ball and doesn’t read the defenses as well as Sullivan. He has shown a stronger running threat and more ability to stretch the field with his arm strength but to depart from a fan-favorite QB and not focus on the problems around the offense is confusing. There is still an overwhelming need for speed and athleticism in the offensive skill position and the offensive line is not one that would be considered elite. Unless there is serious investment in the supporting cast, I don’t believe there will be an improvement in the quarterback position.

Weston Carr – Vienna Vikings

Grade: C

Photo: Hannes Jirgal

The signing of Carr came as somewhat of a surprise, the Azusa Pacific record holder and former GFL All-Star has also suffered from injuries while in Europe. He was out the entire first season with the Vikings and then missed significant time in the following year. The Vikings are going to be desperate to have another run at the championship after a disappointing end to the defense of their first title. In my scouting, Carr is not considered within the top 10 American receivers in the ELF. Of course, this is simply opinion, however. With the Vikings acquiring one of the most hyped players of the year in quarterback Ben Holmes, it was expected that they would have more pull for a top receiver who would be able to be on the field regularly and be the difference maker they need to challenge the Stuttgart Surge and Rhein Fire powerhouses.

In Summary…

Thus, this concludes the first of the grades. A few hot takes for sure, but what is a scout if he can not present his work and defend his opinion?  There will be many more to come in the next few days, each team will certainly have some that are just waiting to be announced, I for one, cannot wait for the 2024 season. Until next time.