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New Orleans Saints Undrafted Rookie Profile: Ahmad Fulwood

A closer look at Saints free agent wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood. Will this former Florida wideout be a late bloomer in the NFL?

SEC Championship - Alabama v Florida Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 2016 New Orleans Saints had arguably the best trio of young wide receivers in the NFL. Former 1st Round draft choice Brandin Cooks was a constant big play threat, and produced his second straight 1,000-yard season. Fan favorite Willie Snead battled the odds for another season, coming just barely shy of 1,000 yards for the second straight campaign, but firmly entrenching himself as a top wideout and becoming one of quarterback Drew Brees' favorite targets.

Michael Thomas rounded out the trio. After being selected in the second round of the 2016 draft from Ohio State, Keyshawn Johnson's nephew immediately carved his own niche. Thomas led the team in receptions (92), second behind Cooks in yards (1,137), and had a year that would have made him the runaway rookie of the year in most seasons, had it not been for the exploits of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott in Dallas. With all three receivers under the age of 24, they were only beginning to scratch the surface of their vast potential.

The future hit a bit of a speed bump at midseason, when Cooks began to show displeasure at the way he was being used in the New Orleans offense. The relationship between Cooks and Saints management deteriorated after that, at least to the point that the New Orleans front office deemed the young wideout with missile-like speed expendable, and dealt him to the New England Patriots early this offseason. The deal left a bit of a hole in the Saints receiving corps. New Orleans signed veteran deep threat Ted Ginn Jr. in free agency, and more will be expected from returning receivers Brandon Coleman and Tommylee Lewis. Practice squad members in 2016, the Saints are hopeful that Jordan Williams-Lambert and Jake Lampman will progress and make a contribution to the team in 2017.

The Saints did not draft a wideout with any of their selections this year, so the team seems content to roll into the regular season with it's current talent on the roster. One player that could change that is the subject of our profile today: former Florida wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood.

Ahmad Fulwood grew up near Jacksonville, Fl., and attended Bishop Kenny High School, where his football achievements ranked him as the 12th rated wide receiver recruit nationally, according to NFL Draft Scout. Fulwood chose to join the University of Florida, where he earned playing time as a freshman, and contributed all four of his seasons in a Gator uniform.

His numbers never quite matched the expectations of him, however. Fulwood's career numbers of 42 receptions for 499 yards and only 3 td's in four years certainly caused criticism among Gator followers, despite praise from the Florida coaching staff for his run blocking and other contributions. In Fulwood's defense, he did toil in a Gator offense that did not have good quarterback play, along with ultra-conservative game planning.

Fulwood has all the measurables that teams look for in a wide receiver. He has very good size at 6-foot-4, 208-lbs, and surprisingly good speed; his 40 time at Florida's pro day was 4.56 seconds. Fulwood has nice leaping ability, and has shown the willingness to go up and get the ball in traffic. He lacks route-running experience, but shows solid separation and the potential to be a decent threat in the red zone while he learns more intricate routes.

The New Orleans Saints have had a tendency during the Sean Payton era to acquire wide receivers directly out of college and develop their own. Only two of the wideouts currently under contract, Ginn and Corey Fuller, have ever taken an official professional snap with another team. The Saints have a lengthy history of accomplished wide receivers who were undrafted free agents when they began their career. Former Saints great Lance Moore is the most famous example, but current players Coleman, Lewis, Lampman, Williams-Lambert were all signed by the Saints after going undrafted. Rashad Lawrence spent a year on Jacksonville's practice squad before joining New Orleans. Then of course the ultimate underdog story, Willie Snead, who was cut by both the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers in 2014 before latching on as a training camp sensation with the Saints in 2015.

Ahmad Fulwood will have every opportunity to make his mark with the New Orleans Saints. After a disappointing college career, will he translate his physical tools into on-field success?