Khalen Saunders


College: Western Illinois

Height: 6'0"


Weight: 320 lbs

Injury History: No Major Injury History

Scout: Roy Countryman

Scouting Report

Athleticism: 7.12

Q.A.B. / C.O.D.: 7.70


Unique athlete, and can do a backflip at his size! Has impressive lateral agility and showed rare range to be able to shed and bring down the ball carrier without much gain. Has good length and knows how to keep his chest clean by not allowing OL to latch and steer. Has a terrific combination of power and quickness that simply overwhelmed the OL at the level he played at.

Flexibility: 7.60


Rare flexibility for a DL, and it showed through when they lined him up as a 3-4 OLB and he looked smooth in rushing the passer. Able to get skinny and penetrate through gaps of the OL with his quickness to get TFL.

Explosiveness: 7.00


Has explosive closing quickness when he is near the action, and will finish plays when he is near them. Also has great hand usage and lateral agility to get out wide of plays that most couldn't get to.

Playing Speed: 6.10


Does not have great speed, but rather has very good short area burst, quickness, and lateral agility to make plays all over the defensive front.

Coordination: 7.20


Very balanced and coordinated athlete not only in the trenches, but when he was tasked with being a stand-up rusher. Looked smooth and powerful, he even unleashed a swim move on a LT. Great athleticism and plays from the balls of his feet.The only thing he struggles with is pad level. At times he will pop upright off the ball and OL can gain leverage on him and move him where they want or pancake him to the ground.

Pass Rush Ability: 7.18

Initial Quickness: 7.40


Very good first step and will get into the OL with an urgency off the snap. OL not aware of his quickness will be caught trying to anchor and with his powerful build it is hard to do.


Use of Hands: 7.20


Advanced hands fighter who understands how to keep his frame clean from OL grasp, and will continually chop and punch to disengage.

Leverage: 6.60


Understands how to uses his natural leverage to his advantage and could simply bull rush OL at the level he played at back into the QB, but he also has a bad tendency to pop upright out of his stance which leads to him being controlled by OL.

Pass Rush Moves: 7.60


Very impressive toolbox full of pass rushing moves in his arsenal which include: Bull Rush, Swim, Spin, Hump, Dip, two- Handed Rip, and a hesitate-burst move.

Finish Ability: 7.10


Heavy finisher and can dislodge the ball from the QB. He gets to and finishes a lot of plays that most DL don't have the range to try and get to.

Competitiveness: 7.43

Toughness: 7.30


Willing to anchor and fight through double teams. Was consistently game planned against at his level because of his skill set yet he still put up stand out production.

Consistency/Motor: 7.50


White hot motor that is always running, and he gives great downfield pursuit and second effort as a pass rusher that pays off with his production.

Production: 7.50


A 47- game veteran at Western Illinois, and put up great production for an IDL the last two years with more than 50 tackles, 12 TFL, and 6.5 sacks. Was a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award which is the best defensive player at his level.

Against The Run: 7.23

Play with Leverage: 6.60


Understands how to uses his natural leverage to his advantage and could simply bull rush OL at the level he played at back into the QB, but he also has a bad tendency to pop upright out of his stance which leads to him being controlled by OL.

Stack and Shed: 7.10


Shows the ability to initiate contact into the OL then lockout arms and use his strong hand usage to disengage and make a play on the ball carrier.

Gap Shooting Ability: 7.40


Highly efficient penetrator that gets into the backfield in a hurry with his very good first step and combination of quickness and power as evidenced by his 34.5 TFL in his career.

Run at Him: 7.50


Able to anchor and hold the POA if he uses sufficient pad level, but will also need to continually add lower body strength and bulk to be able to have the same impact in the NFL. He showed the ability to hold his block and still get one arm on ball carrier to bring him down.


Run Away: 7.50


Excellent pursuit and lateral agility to be able to range out wide of the formation and make a play on the ball carrier.

Tackling/Hitting: 7.30


Heavy hitter who can corral ball carriers with even one arm while being blocked. When he is face up in rushing lanes is an intimidating force for RBs to run into.

Intelligence: 7.57

Instincts: 7.50


Great feel for how OL and how the offense as the whole is trying to contain him. Will adjust his pass rushes and run attacking plan accordingly and will continually unleash different pass rush moves until he finds one that works on blocker.

Learn/Retain: 7.50


Played up and down the defensive front in multiple techniques and positions and really excel wherever he was placed. Really shows he takes the preparation seriously to be able to play them all solidly.

Teamwork: 7.70


Infectious and galvanizing fun-loving personality that his teammates loved. Keeps the pressure off his teammates in any situation by keeping the situation light. Was willing to do the dirty work in the trenches so his teammates could fill in pursuit.


Saunders is a ball of energy that plays DL with the mindset of a LB. He has unique athleticism and has been unleashed up and down the defensive front, even showing off his athleticism by rushing the passer from a 3-4 OLB position. Strong hands and good length to be able to stack and shed blockers close to the LOS. Has a deadly combination of quickness and power that will put OL back on skates if they are not ready to try and contain him. He put up high quality penetration numbers and he could be a a lethal 3T. A finisher when he gets close to the ball and can separate ball from ball carrier.


Has a tendency to pop upright off the ball which negates his natural leverage advantage. Has a deadly combination of quickness and power, but does not have great long speed. Put up big numbers at a smaller school and could simply dominate or overwhelm the OL going up against him, and it is a real question if the production will translate at the next level.


The world was introduced to Khalen Saunders off of a big week at the Senior Bowl that included him staying to participate while his significant other gave birth to their first child. He went viral when a video surfaced of him backflipping which at this stature is impressive. I think he has a chance to ride this wave momentum to a day two selection somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd Round, and with his skill set and athleticism to possibly show he should have gone higher if he would have been coming from a power five program.


Team Fits: Patriots, Steelers, Eagles, Ravens, Lions, Giants, Seahawks, Jaguars

NFL Comp: Javon Hargrave

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