Midseason Top 50 draft board (cont.)
26. Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame*: A fierce, run-defending linebacker with a great head for the game, Te'o has the ability to line up at middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme or on the inside of a 3-4.
27. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State*: The Michigan State junior beats opponents off the snap with a great first step while also possessing the strength to overpower blockers. He needs to improve his techniques and play hard on every down, but Worthy comes with great upside.
28. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: Scouts spoke well of the former Florida Gator, but a shoulder injury curtailed his plans to enter last April's draft before off-field issues forced him to transfer to North Alabama. Jenkins is a shutdown corner when healthy and at the top of his game, but teams have a lot of issues to sift through.
29. Alameda Ta'amu, DL, Washington: The 335-pound Ta'amu is a load in the middle of the line and impossible to move from the action. He could shoot up draft boards if he starts to make more plays on the field.
30. Nick Perry, DE-OLB, USC*: In the midst of a career season, Perry is among the Pac-12 leaders in sacks and tackles for loss. He's a tremendous athlete who, at 250 pounds, can run the 50 in 4.6 seconds. Perry is still developing his game, but has shown improvement on a weekly basis.
31. Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina*: Ranked as one of the best zone blocking prospects in the nation, Cooper is a terrific athlete with a good amount of upside to his game.
32. Robert Lester, S, Alabama*: Lester is the third member of the Alabama secondary to make this list. His game is complete, and many scouts think his coverage skills exceed those of teammate Mark Barron.
33. Courtney Upshaw, DE-OLB, Alabama: The Tide's top pass rusher is a playmaking machine, with a combined 14 sacks/tackles for loss this season. Upshaw lines up at defensive end for Alabama, but projects to outside linebacker in the NFL. Solid pre-draft workouts will only enhance his stock.
34. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers*: Sanu has been the go-to receiver at Rutgers since his freshman season. He's a big target who defeats opponents to come away with the reception, and will serve as a terrific red-zone target in the NFL.
35. Jared Crick, DL, Nebraska: Crick is an intense competitor who plays hard until the whistle blows. He's getting looks as both a three-technique lineman and two-gap end for the next level. A torn pectoral muscle abruptly cut short his 2011 campaign and will aversely impact his draft stock.
36. Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin*: Konz is the next great lineman from the Wisconsin program and the best center from the Big Ten since Nick Mangold. He's a dominant run blocker who also stands out in pass protection, besides possessing the skills needed to block in motion.
37. Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple*: The record-setting ball carrier is a well built back with great instincts and skill. He has the power to run over opponents and the vision to squeeze through open lanes.
38. Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama*: Hightower is a dominant middle linebacker with a style reminiscent of former Tide star Rolando McClain. He lacks the pure instincts of his former teammate and does not play with the same motor, but all the pieces are available to Hightower if he wants to put them together.
39. Melvin Ingram, DE-OLB, South Carolina: Ingram is in the midst of an All America campaign and ready to claim numerous postseason awards. His play on the field is eye-catching, but his measurables (6-2, 270 lbs., 4.8 40) leave scouts wondering where he'll line up at the next level.
40. Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis*: The 350-pound junior is an imposing defender in the middle of the Memphis line. He has the power to drive opponents off the ball but also moves well in the box. Poe is expected to enter the draft and could end up the highest-rated nose tackle.
41. Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia: Glenn's move to left tackle this year has been unsuccessful, but he still has a future at guard in the NFL. He's been a dominant small-area blocker, offering both size and power.
42. Andre Branch, DE, Clemson: Branch is in the midst of a tremendous senior season, and his draft stock is soaring. He's been a disruptive force all year long. He'll be a good fit on a four-man line.
43. Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri: Egnew is a classic Missouri tight end; a pass-catching deep threat who creates mismatches in the secondary. He's more athletic than many of his predecessors and has a good deal of upside.
44. Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana: Johnson ranks as the top small school prospect available in the 2011 draft. He offers outstanding measurables and is rarely challenged by opponents. A postseason invitation to the Senior Bowl looks in the offing for Johnson, and his performance at the event will be critical.
45. Josh Chapman, NT, Alabama: Chapman is yet another prospect from the talented Alabama defense to make this list. He's a tough, slug-it-out defensive lineman who plays with a competitive style.
46. Billy Winn, DL, Boise State: Winn can line up at a variety of positions at the next level. He has the movement skills to be used as a three-technique tackle and the size to play defensive end in a 3-4.
47. Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M: The big-bodied possession receiver has had a developing game the past two years. He has the size and strength to beat down opponents and has improved the consistency of his hands.
48. Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin: Toon is having a terrific senior campaign and, like his dad, former All-Pro Al Toon, he's a dependable wideout with reliable hands.
49. Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: The versatile Martin is well thought-of in scouting circles. He's a talented ball carrier who also produces as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
50. Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia: Minnifield has been slightly disappointing this season, but the senior remains a quality cornerback who can produce as a return specialist if called upon.
Notes: Even though it's only October, word is starting to leak out about invitations for January's Senior Bowl. So which quarterbacks will be traveling to Mobile for this important pre-draft event? Word is that invitations are on their way to Russell Wilson of Wisconsin, Nick Foles of Arizona and Kellen Moore of Boise State. A pair of Big 12 quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, will also be invitees. John Brantley of Florida will be this year's representative from the SEC.
Speculation has Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Ryan Lindley of San Diego State receiving invitations to the Shrine Game, which takes place the week prior to the Senior Bowl. Expected to join them are Jordan Jefferson of LSU, Houston's Case Keenum, Chandler Harnish from Northern Illinois and Bryon Coleman of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
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