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Hard Paths to the NFL

EARNING AN NFL roster spot is not easy, especially for players who competed at FCS schools. SI TV's latest feature-length documentary, Next Level, went behind the scenes with two small-conference prospects—defensive tackle Khalen Saunders (Western Illinois) and receiver Keelan Doss (UC Davis)—from the conclusion of their college careers through the final round of the NFL draft. The 6-foot, 324-pound Saunders (top, center) had more on his mind than football at the Senior Bowl, for example. SI captured the moment his wife, Ayanna Hall, called to say she had gone into labor. After a quick trip home to Chicago to meet his daughter, Kambridge, he returned for the game and showed enough to be taken with the 84th pick, by the Chiefs.

Doss (inset), a 6'2", 211-pound speedster who grew up in Alameda, Calif., set Aggies career records for catches (321) and receiving yards (4,069). He suffered a pectoral injury at the NFL combine and was crushed to not be one of the 28 receivers selected. (Doss signed a free-agent deal with the Raiders after the draft's seventh and final round.) His journey continues.


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