ST. LOUIS, MO- Khalen Saunders became the first St. Louis area football player to come off the board in the 2019 NFL Draft Friday night, when the Parkway Central graduate now with Western Illinois was taken in the third round by the Kansas City Chiefs. His selection caps a pre-draft process that saw him earn wild praise for his athleticism.
After all, how many 310 lb defensive lineman do you know who can do backflips?
That’s a 310-pound lineman 😱
Khalen Saunders out of Western Illinois pic.twitter.com/xKhGsUdmXv
— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) January 22, 2019
As it turns out, he’s actually been doing it for years.
Time of year when small school guys get to show they can compete on the big stage. This is 320-pound, Western Illinois DT Khalen Saunders (@khalenNOTkaylen), who is heading to the Senior Bowl next week. Backflips at his size…. pic.twitter.com/s6QjAkA3zO
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 16, 2019
Saunders showed that ability and more during Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Alabama, where a player who didn’t have scouts attending games in Macomb, Illinois during his playing career also faced a tough choice in what amounted to the biggest job interview of his life: Stay and compete, or witness the birth of his child? He learned his fiance was going into labor during practice week, and the couple agreed he should stay.
Now his pro career will start four hours away from home.
— Parkway Central High Football (@PCColtsFootball) April 27, 2019