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April 06, 2016

Eagles appear to targeting speed receivers

Eagles NFL
040616MikeThomas Ron Jenkins/AP

Southern Mississippi WR Mike Thomas could be a sleeper in the 2016 NFL Draft.

In a profile of Howie Roseman published about three weeks ago by Peter King of Sports Illustrated, a small, one-sentence nugget appeared 16 paragraphs into the piece (h/t BGN):

What Roseman still wants to do is to find a receiver with deep speed.

The Eagles' offseason actions so far seem to be backing up that point. 

After cutting DeSean Jackson (while getting zilch in return) and losing Jeremy Maclin in free agency to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Eagles were left with little in the way of receivers who can stretch the field vertically. The Eagles appear poised to add players who can add that deep threat element to their offense once again.

Two days after the Roseman profile was published, the Eagles signed speedy receiver Chris Givens to a one-year deal. Givens ran a 4.41 40 at the 2012 Combine and he has a 16.6 yards per catch average for his career.

During the pre-draft process, the Eagles have also reportedly either had meetings or have meetings scheduled with three speed receiver prospects:

Kolby Listenbee, TCU: Listenbee averaged 19.9 yards per catch in 2015. In Indy, Listenbee ran a 4.35 40, the second best time among receivers competing at the Combine. He was also a track star at TCU.

Mike Thomas, Southern MississippiThomas ran a 4.4 at his pro day, and averaged an extremely impressive 19.6 yards per catch on 71 catches in 2015. It's important to note the number of catches here. Oftentimes receivers might have very high yards per catch averages, but it's misleading because they have a low number of catches. Averaging nearly 20 yards per catch on 71 catches shows a higher level of consistency getting down the field and making big plays.

• Demarcus Robinson, Florida: Robinson ran a very disappointing 4.59 at the Combine (weird things can happen at the Combine), but he is widely regarded as a deep threat with good burst. First, from Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBS:

The long-limbed Robinson sports an athletic frame with broad shoulders, a tapered middle and good overall musculature for the position. He accelerates smoothly off the snap, showing the burst to challenge deep as well as the body control to make sharp cuts to create separation.

And from Lance Zierlein of

Electric vertical talent that can make cornerbacks re­think their coverage plans. Has shake at the line of scrimmage to free himself against press coverage and has adequate ball tracking skills. Graceful, flexible athlete with instant turbo acceleration. Has ability to hit the home run after the catch. Races off the line and forced cornerbacks into retreat opening easy comeback catches.

In other words, if you're doing a seven round Eagles-only mock draft, be sure to include a burner at wideout somewhere in there.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski