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Four possible replacements for DeMarco Murray in NFL draft

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The Philadelphia Eagles kicked off the free-agency season with a whirlwind of moves to purge the roster of players brought in by former coach Chip Kelly.

One such move was to trade running back DeMarco Murray to the Tennessee Titans. That development filled a key area of need for the Titans -- providing second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota with a talented running back to work with in coach Mike Mularkey's "exotic smashmouth" attack -- and opened a void on the Eagles' roster.

2016 NFL DRAFT

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For the time being, the Eagles still have veterans Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner on the roster (though, the team has indicated that Mathews is there for the taking). Despite a massive dropoff in production following a league-leading 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, Murray still managed to lead the Eagles in rushing with 702 yards. That production will need to be accounted for, and the Eagles could turn to this year's draft for additional backfield help.

Here are four running back prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft class that make sense for the Eagles, based on feedback from NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein.

1. Jordan Howard, Indiana: Due to the Sam Bradford trade, the Eagles are without a second-round draft selection. With a dire need to acquire offensive line talent, the Eagles likely will pass on a running back in the first round and could use one of their two third-round selections at the position.

After UAB shut down its football program, Howard found a home at Indiana, where he replaced Tevin Coleman -- a third-round selection of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2015 draft. While Howard did earn first-team All-Big Ten honors (alongside Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott), he was also injury-prone, missing four games.

At 6-foot-0, 230 pounds, Howard measures up well to Murray's 6-0, 217-pound frame, and could be a workhorse back. Howard figures to be selected on the Friday of the 2016 draft -- NFL Media draft analyst Chad Reuter projects Howard to go with the first pick in the third round in his latest four-round mock draft. That also holds true for the other draft-eligible running backs mentioned below.

2. Devontae Booker, Utah: Booker has experience running in a pro-style offense, and posted 1,000-yard rushing seasons the previous two years for the Utes. On top of his production as a runner, Booker brings a knack for catching the ball as well, collecting 80 receptions the past two seasons.

3. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech: Dixon is coming off a record-setting career at Louisiana Tech, having briefly owned the FBS record for touchdown scores (Keenan Reynolds topped Dixon's 87 scores in Navy's Military Bowl win and finished with 88). Dixon's bell-cow capabilities are coupled with an ability to be a reliable receiver (he had 33 receptions for 464 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015).

4. Jonathan Williams, Arkansas: Williams missed the entire 2015 season with a foot injury. If he's fully recovered, Williams could be an instant-impact presence in the pros. At 5-11, 220, Williams is thick, but brings quick feet and a little tread wear from his college career. The foot injury will be a concern for teams, which is why Williams could be had later in the draft than his talent would otherwise suggest.

There is a very limited selection of running backs this year, and the aforementioned prospects bring varying skill sets and can fit in most any offensive system.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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