Apr 25th, 2023 00:00, by Tim Hanswillemenke

Pre-Season Power Ranking – Newcomer in Top 3, Sea Devils not in Top 5

It is finally time for my first power ranking before the third season of the European League of Football kicks off. In this power ranking, I am looking at the overall strength of each team as of now.

Power Rankings by Tim Hanswillemenke. © ‍Jonas Wicker

Apr 25th, 2023 00:00, by Tim Hanswillemenke

Pre-Season Power Ranking – Newcomer in Top 3, Sea Devils not in Top 5

It is finally time for my first power ranking before the third season of the European League of Football kicks off. In this power ranking, I am looking at the overall strength of each team as of now.

Tim Hanswillemenke Power Ranking:

This one is easy. For Rhein Fire, the upcoming season proves to be a "championship or bust" effort. By not only hiring the 2022 Coach of the Year Andrew Weidinger as their new offensive coordinator, but also extending all of their most important players like quarterback Jadrian Clark, wide receiver Nathaniel Robitaille, defensive back Omari Williams, the German franchise looks to go for it all this year.

The signing of former CFL and Frankfurt Galaxy wide receiver Anthony Mahoungou is just the icing on the cake for the most dangerous looking team this pre-season.

The reigning champions are no longer number one on my list because of the incredible signings and hiring of Rhein Fire this past off-season. However, the Austrian franchise also kept their core players in the facility and only switched from Jackson Erdmann (retired) to Chris Helbig at the quarterback position.

In my opinion, the Vikings will easily be a playoff candidate once again this season and might even have what it takes to repeat! 

I know the Musketeers are new to the European League of Football as a team, but some of their best players know exactly what it takes to win on the highest level in Europe. Former Barcelona Dragons quarterback Zach Edwards reunites with triple crown winner Kyle Sweet, except it is not Barcelona but Paris.

The Musketeers also have incredible homegrown players on their roster who have everything it takes to surprise the league. For example, running back Méril Zero who is one of the better homegrown running backs the league will see this year! Watch out for the newcomer in Paris!

The Frankfurt Galaxy won the first every championship of the European League of Football back in 2021. On the flip side, the German franchise could not reach the playoffs last season. However, the Galaxy were an up-trending team at the end of the regular season thanks to a wide receiver who will play for the German franchise again in 2023: Reece Horn.

The former NFL wideout will once again pair up with quarterback Jakeb Sullivan who together produced 683 receiving/passing yards and eleven touchdowns in just eight games.

The Galaxy defense also looks like one of the best in the league, with an incredible linebacker core and incredible defensive backfield. It would not surprise me to find the Galaxy back in the playoffs this season.

I recently wrote about the Berlin Thunder in my latest "Monday Mailbag"-edition. I believe with the changes the Thunder have made over the off-season, the German franchise is a playoff contender. In my opinion, quarterback Donovan Isom is an upgrade over Joe Germinerio. Additionally, the wide receiver group got even more dangerous with the signings of Aaron Jackson and Max Zimmermann.

With Kyle Kitchens back on their defense, the Thunder look poised to work for their first playoff-berth in franchise history.

I know, the Hamburg Sea Devils are only coming in sixth on my list. But hear me out: After last season, the franchise lost a number of veteran players who were not only difference makers on the field, but off the field as well. Namely, former NFL pass rusher Kasim Edebali and linebacker Miguel Boock. So, the Sea Devils will have to find new leaders on defense, although the talent-level on the roster is still one of the highest in the league.

Offensively, the Sea Devils return to their first-year strategy by having signed American quarterback Preston Haire. Pairing him up with former Wrocław Panthers wideout Malik Stanley is great for their offense and will certainly help to upgrade their passing game. However, with the loss of running back Glen Toonga (now with Rhein Fire), the Sea Devils can no longer lean on their running game like they could last season.

It will be interesting to watch the Sea Devils over the first few weeks, as they have to find a new identity as a team!

I had to give Stuttgart Surge some credit for their incredible off-season in my pre-season power ranking. Head coach Jordan Neuman, formerly with the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in the GFL, knows how to win. And that is just as important as the off-season signings by the Surge, which look promising to say the least.

Former Rookie of the Year and wide receiver Louis Geyer returns to the Surge alongside wide receiver Yannick Mayr who played for the Raiders Tirol. With a new defensive coordinator, Johannes Brenner, the Surge have to heavily improve on defense as they surrendered the most points out of all teams last season.

Overall, the Surge will have a shot to reach the playoffs, although a 180-turnaround is more difficult than one might think.

I initially put the Raiders at ten. But the signing of former New York Giants running back and homegrown Sandro Platzgummer forced me to update their position. With him, the Raiders landed the best homegrown signing of the entire 2022/2023 off-season.

However, the Austrian franchise looks like a solid team overall, even if you leave Platzgummer out of the equation. By signing Christian Strong at quarterback alongside his old teammate Jarvis McClam at wide receiver, the Raiders do not start the season with an entirely new QB-WR duo.

On top of that, their defense looks promising as a lot of important players like Lucky Ogbevoen, Niklas Gustav, and other playmakers returned for another season. If the Raiders find their rhythm early, it would not surprise me to see them in the playoffs this year.  

The Seamen are new to the European League of Football. And with that, I automatically downgraded them a few spots, like almost every other new franchise, because of their lack of experience in the European League of Football. For most of their players, the European League of Football will be the best competition they have ever faced. Because of that, it is very difficult to rank the new franchises, as they have a lot of new players.

Although most of Milano’s players will be new to the league, I believe that their team is ready to compete. They also have former Barcelona Dragons and Hamburg Sea Devils wide receiver Jéan Constant on their roster, which will help them starting Week 1.

The Munich Ravens have a great roster. But they are also new to the league which made it more difficult to rank them. In my opinion, their biggest advantage is to have John Shoop as head coach, who spent last season with the Sea Devils as an advisor and quarterbacks coach. The long-time NFL and Division I coach has the know-how when it comes to play winning football.

One player to watch out for is Irish running back Tomiwa Oyewo. The shifty playmaker could have an immediate impact on offense from Week 1.

The Wrocław Panthers played solid football over their first two seasons in the European League of Football. While it was never enough to reach the Championship Game, the Polish franchise also never hit rock bottom, with a 6-4 and 5-7 records. I believe that they will have such a season once again.

By hiring former Wyoming Cowboys head coach Dave Christensen, the Panthers will have an experienced leader on their sideline amongst other high-profile coaches. But will that be enough to reach the post-season?

I only put the Guards at twelve because they are new to the European League of Football. However, a lot of different parts on their team scream “playoffs” when I look at them. In my opinion, the Guards have the best QB-RB duo in Collin Hill and Silas Nacita, if you talk potential. The offense could be limited because they lack an experienced big-bodied receiver. However, Nacita alone should be turning heads starting this June.

Their coaching staff is also incredible when you think about their head coach Norm Chow who has several years of NFL and Division I experience under his belt. For now, the Guards are at twelve. But be ready for them to surge up the board once the season starts.

The Enthroners are ranked 13 in my initial pre-season power ranking because of moves like changing your starting quarterback within the last six weeks before kick-off. On social media, the Enthroners announced that they have parted ways with Gabriel Cunningham and have instead signed former Division I quarterback Jerod Evans.

Although I think Evans is an upgrade over Cunningham, the Enthroners do not look like a playoff contender (yet). In my opinion, their overall strength of homegrown players is just not as good as that of the Vikings, Rhein Fire, or other teams.

I only put the Centurions at 14 because of their A-import players. Linebacker Zachary Blair proved to be a difference maker wherever he played, and wideout Terryon Robinson was one of a few reasons the Istanbul Rams were competitive in 2022. However, the German franchise lost a lot of quality homegrown players to other franchises, which will make it difficult to play on a high level this season.

The Lions are one of the new teams in the European League of Football. Just like the Enthroners, I do believe that their quality of homegrown players does not matchup well with that of other teams in the league.

However, wideout Victor Wharton III could be a difference maker for quarterback Shazzon Mumphrey. He has the speed and shiftiness to be a problem for a lot of defenses.

Barcelona Dragons fans know what it is coming now, and I am sorry to mention it to you once again. One of the best quarterbacks in the league has left your franchise (Zach Edwards) alongside the triple crown winner of last season (Kyle Sweet). And to make matters worse, they have left to join the same team in Paris.

Those two players were the main reason the Dragons reached the playoffs last season. So, I had no other choice than ranking the Spanish franchise almost last in this pre-season ranking.

One team has to rank last in this pre-season ranking, and it is the Kings for me. I am not sold on their quarterback Kenyatte Allen. However, I like their runningback Steve McShane who had a short gig with the Pittsburgh Steelers when he came out of college. Linebacker A.J. Wentland is also one of the best at his position, but it takes more than just one player to be successful.

Who knows, the Kings might prove me wrong at the end. But for now, I see them rank last amongst a very tough competition in the Eastern Conference.

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