4 Downs: Offensive Preview of the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine

Three writers for 49ers.com offer different opinions on the key offensive prospects participating in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Let's get to the four downs with names you should keep an eye on going into the week of testing and workouts from Feb., 23-29. Remember, this is strictly offensive players. For defensive analysis, click here.

1st Down: Who has the most to prove?

@Joe_Fann: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

Cook opted not to attend the Senior Bowl, which would have been a prime opportunity to boost his stock among his quarterback peers in this year's draft. That doesn't mean his stock necessarily dropped, it just means that the jury will be closely monitoring his performance at the combine. NFL Network's Mike Mayock, among many other draft analysts, have Cook as their fourth-ranked quarterback in the draft behind Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch (in any order). That ranking could fluctuate depending on his showing in Indianapolis.

@TylerEmerick: Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi

The buzz at the quarterback position has almost entirely been focused on Goff, Lynch and Wentz. Prescott is mostly known for his dual-threat ability, but many scouts have been impressed with his accuracy on tape. Prescott is one of only four players in college football history to throw for 60 touchdowns and rush for 40 more. He was also a two-time All-American and two-time All-SEC quarterback. Can Prescott insert his name with the aforementioned trio?

@TaylorPrice:Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

Let's make it a trifecta of signal-callers in this category with the 6-foot-6, 230-pound passer. Lynch led Memphis to a 9-4 record last season with 3,776 apassing yards and 28 touchdown passes against four interceptions. Most of the production, however, came against less than stellar defensive opponents. Lynch struggled in his final game at Memphis, completing 16 of 37 passes for 106 yards with one interception in a lopsided loss to Auburn. Lynch will look to show he's a viable first-round talent after finishing a strong year on a sour note.

2nd Down: Which highly-ranked player are you most excited to watch?

@Joe_Fann: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

People are keen to see how fast Treadwell is. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Treadwell has drawn comparisons to Anquan Boldin. If Treadwell runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.70-second range, those comparisons will intensify as Boldin ran it in 4.72 seconds back in 2003. Treadwell's size and playmaking ability that he exhibited on a weekly basis in the SEC will make him a first-round talent regardless. A 40-yard spring inside of 4.60 seconds will just ensure he's a top-10 pick.

@TylerEmerick: Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State The quarterback-turned-wide receiver has dropped more than 10 pounds to become more explosive at his new position. Miller is as versatile as anyone in this year's draft class – a trait that is probably rather attractive to new 49ers coach Chip Kelly. Miller is expected to run the 40-yard dash in the low 4.3s. He displayed that speed throughout his Ohio State career, helping him score 36 combined touchdowns as a runner and receiver.

@TaylorPrice: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

Add another one of the Buckeyes' coveted talents to this conversation. Elliott did more than flash his abs on campus. The 6-foot, 225-pound runner was highly productive in his three seasons at Ohio State. Elliott is the 12th-ranked college prospect on CBS Sports' big board because of it. In a three-game stretch of 2014, Elliott rushed for 200-plus yards in the Big Ten Championship game, the Sugar Bowl and the College Football Playoff National Championship game. Elliott's numbers dipped slightly in 2015, but will he be prepared to showcase his sophomore form in front of the masses of talent evaluators? Count me in as one of the intruiged members of the media.

3rd Down: Which small school player are you most excited to watch?

@Joe_Fann: Tajae Sharpe, WR, Massachusetts

Who doesn't love some midweek "MACtion" during football season? Sharpe made a living out of those contests, racking up 1,319 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2015. The two-time first-team All-MAC selection grabbed 85 passes for 1,281 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior in 2014. Sharpe can claim the rare feat of catching a pass in every game he appeared in for Massachusetts. The 6-foot-2 wideout already participated in the Senior Bowl, and he will get another opportunity to run alongside his major-conference counterparts next week.

@TylerEmerick: Darion Griswold, TE, Arkansas State

Stop me if you've heard this before: A former basketball player transitions to football tight end. Griswold was an All-State hooper in high school and also played in college as a freshman. On the football field, Griswold reportedly has great hands to complement his big-bodied frame at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds. At the East-West Shrine Game, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah listed him as a weeklong standout due to his "ideal size and ability to attack the ball."

@TaylorPrice: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

Wentz really put the Bison program on the map with a stellar Senior Bowl week. How do you continue to ascend in the draft world? Do every drill at the combine, and do them well. For quarterbacks, that means being willing to throw every route asked of you during on-field drills. Good thing for Wentz, he's elected to go side-by-side against the other top passers in this year's combine. If Wentz wants to continue being discussed as the top passer in this year's crop, he'll look to showcase strong mechanics and accuracy with a fresh batch of wide receivers at Lucas Oil Stadium.

4th Down: Who will run the fastest 40-yard dash?
@Joe_Fann: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

Coleman is an interesting contrast to Treadwell. Some are concerned he'll measure in under 5-foot-10, but no one doubts his athletic prowess. Coleman averaged 18.4 yards per catch in 2015 and set a school record for touchdowns in a single season with 20. The Baylor product has the speed to stretch the field and consistently showed that he is one of the premier deep threats in the nation. My bet is that no other skill player will be able to catch him at Lucas Oil Stadium.

@TylerEmerick: Kolby Listenbee, WR, TCU

A four-time All-American sprinter in college, Listenbee posted a 10.04-second time in the 100-meter dash at the NCAA national championship meet last year. That's world-class speed for those wondering. Usain Bolt won the gold medal in the event at the 2012 Olympics with a time of 9.63 seconds. A deep threat, Listenbee averaged 19 yards per catch in 2015 and could be a candidate to return kicks at the next level.

@TaylorPrice:Will Fuller, WR,Notre Dame

I saw Fuller get behind many defensive backs this season, so I don't see any issues with Fuller running past his 40-yard dash competition. Fuller is well-known for taking the top off of a defense. Just ask the University of Virginia. Go ahead and YouTube it. I'll give you a second... OK, now that we're squared away, NFL.com compared Fuller to Ted Ginn Jr., who has made a living as a home-run threat on offense and special teams. Fuller can fly. The combine and NFL world will see it confirmed soon.

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