Eagles receiver Jason Avant was a blog favorite of MTC during the 2008 season.
We loved his toughness. His hands. His knack for finding the first-down marker on third downs.
Avant was a reliable target and a pleasant surprise.
But is he ready to make the leap to the next level?
NFL.com's Pat Kirwan sure thinks so. He includes Avant on a list of wide receivers who will step up and make 60-80 catches in 2009.
Here's the write-up:
Unless you talk with an Eagles coach or Donovan McNabb, you might not realize how much this franchise likes Avant. One Eagles executive called him the best slot receiver in the NFL. With all of the attention focused on DeSean Jackson and rookie Jeremy Maclin, Avant should have a very productive year. He has improved his receptions totals in each of his three NFL seasons, from 7 to 23 to 32 last year.
I'd be stunned if Avant jumped to the 60-80 catch range, and that's not a knock on him. I just don't think he'll be given the opportunities, considering that Jeremy Maclin is now in the mix and the offense will spread the ball around.
I'm also not knocking Kirwan. I like the guts. His list would be no fun if it included Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson.
Avant had 32 catches for 377 yards and two touchdowns last season, which was his third in the NFL. DeSean Jackson was the team's leading receiver and the only player to notch 60-plus catches.
In 2007, the Eagles had three players (Brian Westbrook, Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown) with 60-plus catches.
What are your expectations for Avant? Is Kirwan's projection realistic?
If he repeats last year's performance, not only in terms of statistics, but in terms of reliability and success on third down, that will be just fine with me.