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NFL Prospect Skips Birth of His Baby Girl to Prove Himself at a Draft Showcase

MOBILE, Ala. — As NFL prospects wind through the pre-draft process, they’re all asked some version of the same question: How much do you love football?

At the Senior Bowl this week, NFL teams don’t have to bother asking Western Illinois defensive tackle Khalen Saunders. After finding out on Monday night that his fiancée is on the cusp of going into labor with their first child, he made the business decision to stay at the Senior Bowl to showcase his talents to NFL scouts.

The decision to choose a once-in-a-lifetime professional opportunity over a once-in-a-lifetime personal one made Saunders, a projected mid-round pick, the unlikely star of Senior Bowl media day on Tuesday. He handled the spotlight with aplomb and a warm genuineness, explaining how much the exposure to NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl means to a small-school prospect.

“There’s no doubt,” Saunders said, “if I love this game or not.”

Now this is someone I want on my team. While Khalen Saunders was already moving to the top of Coley’s draft board for being a 320-pound defensive tackle that can do back flips, I’ll admit that I wasn’t completely sold on the big fella. I prefer to look deeper into a player than just his freakish talent, even if it was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.

Sheeesh. But 320-pound gymnasts are a dime a dozen in my book. What is their character like? How will they respond when their back is against the wall? And well, now I know exactly what type of person Mr. Khalen Saunders is. A warrior. A no-bullshit, no-distraction type of player that knows what he wants and works til he gets it. Having a child? Don’t care, gotta prove myself. First child? Doesn’t change anything. First baby girl? Does not matter. And not only does it not matter to Khalen, it doesn’t matter to his fiance either.

Hall is on board with her fiance’s business decision. She called Saunders’ agent, Kyle McCarthy with Athletes First, with an explicit message: “I’m going to the hospital. Don’t let him come back here.”

Hell yeah. I need to stop messing around with all of these blonde 9s and brunette 10s every single night and finally find myself a ride-or-die like this girl. She knows that he needs to get them that money. Coming off a strong season in the FCS, Saunders was likely to be a Day 3 pick in the draft, but analysts have said his stock is continuing to rise from his showcase of athleticism and now commitment to the game.

Congratulations Mr. Saunders, but let’s not let this new blessing at home stray your eyes from the prize. The NFL pre-draft time is wild, and every little move and decision is under the microscope. While your decision to stay and workout at the Senior Bowl is being praised, other players are not so lucky. Take Missouri quarterback Drew Lock’s situation. He went from being a potential first round pick to now being completely undraftable based on his actions in the 9th grade.

Disgusting! Khalen Saunders needs to use what has happened to Mr. Lock as a learning experience. NFL scouts will dig up anything and everything. So while he probably thinks this whole baby ordeal is a positive right now, I would tread lightly. Like, what if a team does its due diligence and digs up his gender reveal video? The way a man responds to him finding out that he’s having a baby girl tells a lot about his character, right Gordon Hayward?


Remember Khalen, Daddy’s always happy.