Top 5 ELF U25 – Players in the trenches

During the research for the U25 list, it was hard not to include several players in the league, hence the reason it was broken up into “Offensive skill positions”. This is the second part of the series highlighting the young talents in the league playing on the line, both on offense and defense. There are no American offensive linemen in the league, so it gives European players a massive opportunity to shine. Defensive line has several recognizable names, European and American alike. Let’s get straight into it.

Luca Jokiel – OT #61 – Stuttgart Surge

Photo: @zwenjazwenja

9 Games Played

As a former IPP player with the new look Surge, expectations were high for Jokiel coming into this season. He has certainly performed as one of the best tackles in the league as a result. The Surge have been mostly dominant on offense throughout the year, possessing the top 5 in passing, rushing, and scoring. As the left tackle, it’s not a reach to attribute part of quarterback Kenyatte Allen’s historic eight-touchdown performance to him. In addition, Reilly Hennessey found success in the offense due to the time he has from his blind side. His length, strength and elite-level grip have been factors, but his movement in pass protection is massively underrated. He is absolutely on track for an All-Star nod at the end of the season.

Lukas Holub – OT #71 – Vienna Vikings

6 Games Played

Lukas is one of the best tackles in Europe, it’s a big statement but I encourage a throughout viewing of his performances in the ELF this season. He is also the youngest to feature on this list at only 21 at the time of this writing. By no means is he the “Perfect” player but he may be considered as an IPP player come the end of the year for his size and improvement to his technical ability. The Vikings are one of the best teams in the league and the former champions, much of that has been built around the quality of the Offensive Line as a unit. Holub’s impact has been critical in both the pass and run, he anchors well, stifles movement from the Defender and does show flashes of his pulling and open-field blocking.

Leander Wiegand – OT #71 – Rhein Fire

Rhein Fire OL Leander Wiegand, #71 and the rest of the offensive line. Photo: Rhein Fire

7 Games Played

Everyone knows that the Rhein Fire offensive line is the best in the league, but Wiegand is an underrated cog in that machine. At 23, he has started alongside former ELF and GFL all-stars this season and he has blended in exceedingly well as part of the unit. Rhein currently leads in scoring and passing yards, and they’re high up on rushing yards as well, with Toonga well and truly back he has relied on Leander to help him catch up with the rest of the league. His eyes and feet are active, his hands are strong, and he can control the line of scrimmage well. Truly an underappreciated player at an underappreciated position.

Alejandro Fernandez Nieto – DL #11 – Rhein Fire

Rhein Fire LB Alejandro Fernandez Nieto #11 sacking Helvetic Guards QB Photo: Rhein Fire

5 Sacks (34 Yards) – 12.5 TFLs – 24 Total Tackles – 1 Forced Fumble

One of the league’s youngest and brightest stars is undoubtedly Alejandro. The 1st team All-Star defensive lineman has seen a decline in his numbers due to his move to the Rhein Fire, but this does not mean he isn’t an elite European pass rusher. In week 6 he showed his proficiency in the art form by getting three sacks and a forced fumble in a win against the Munich Ravens. His array of techniques gives him an advantage on the less experienced offensive lines while his burst and bend allow him to expose the older and less athletic players. He would be higher as he is immensely talented, but the slow start to the season hampered his season stats.

Tobias Rodlauer – OT #70 – Berlin Thunder

Berlin Thunder OL Tobias Rodlauer Photo: Eric Muehle

8 Games Played

A lot of the hype around Berlin was from their offensive weapons at their deposal. However, their line is also among the more exciting, Tobias is certainly a reason why. He’s versatile, aggressive, finishes well and is effective in both Pass and Run offence from the left or right side of the line. The Austrian was in the 2022 All-Star teams, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in that convocation once again. Berlin, as expected, has been a high-octane passing attack, which is not what they were last year. The evidence of his improvement can be found in that scheme’s flexibility and adjustment to a change of emphasis.

This list was incredibly fun to watch although it took a lot of production. The offensive line is always underappreciated but with the bevy of talented young players on the lines it needed to be highlighted. Each country has several talented players, but Germany and Austria had a big advantage in this category. Next up we have the defenders. Until next time.

Honorable Mentions:

Johannes Zirngibl – Munich Ravens

Fabian Kratz – Cologne Centurions

Emil Hovde – Berlin Thunder