Packers pick cornerback Ahmad Carroll in the first round

— -- GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers may have landed cornerback Mike McKenzie's looming replacement after failing to get a shot at Brett Favre's eventual successor in the first round of the NFL draft Saturday. The Packers chose cornerback Ahmad Carroll of Arkansas three picks after Buffalo's startling deal to move up and select Tulane quarterback J.P. Losman with the 22nd pick. Coach/general manager Mike Sherman acknowledged things might have been different were Losman still available. "If I had that choice, it would have been a tough call because I like Losman," Sherman said. "But I like Carroll, too, because I think Carroll can impact our team immediately. But I did like Losman, there's no question about that." The Packers traded away their second-round pick in one of two deals with Jacksonville and ended up with the 70th and 72nd overall picks in the third round. They selected another cornerback, Joey Thomas of Montana State, with the 70th pick. Packing 195 pounds on his nearly 6-foot-1 frame, Thomas is almost three inches taller than Carroll. Then, the Packers took 6-5, 323-pound defensive tackle Donnell Washington of Clemson two picks later. The Packers swung a third deal, this one with Miami, to move up and select Ohio State's B.J. Sander, who won the Ray Guy award as the nation's top punter, with the 87th overall pick in the third round. The maneuvering left the Packers without a fourth- or fifth-rounder Sunday. They own one pick in the sixth round and two in the seventh. The Packers are still in negotiations with Cleveland to acquire Tim Couch, the top pick in the 1999 draft, to serve as Favre's backup. McKenzie, their best cornerback, is threatening to retire if he's not sent to another team. But that's not necessarily why they went for Carroll. They needed to upgrade their secondary anyway -- their other starting cornerback, Al Harris, is under contract only through 2004. Right now, Carroll is slated as the third cornerback and special teams duty but is expected to push for either McKenzie's starting spot on the left side -- if it's vacated -- or Harris's role on the right. The Packers were adamant they would have selected Carroll even if McKenzie weren't dissatisfied. "This was not a knee-jerk reaction nor a pick based on what is happening with Mike McKenzie or anything," defensive coordinator Bob Slowik said. "This was a pick that we thought could help us win (even with) Mike being here. Really, that wasn't the reason we picked him." Carroll is a 5-foot-10, 193-pound junior from Atlanta who missed spring football at Arkansas during his first two years to run for the Razorbacks' powerhouse track team. He skipped track this spring to focus on the NFL draft after deciding to miss his senior season. He's one of the fastest players in this year's draft, and the Packers love his physical play in bump-and-run coverage. "I'd like all my corners to be 6-foot, 6-foot-1 if I could, but that wasn't available to us this year in the draft," Sherman said. However, with 4.34 and 4.35 times in the 40-yard dash, "he has exceptional speed. Some guys have track speed, he has speed on the field," Sherman added. Even though he's short, the Packers like Carroll's wingspan -- he has 31-inch arms -- and his 41-inch vertical jump, along with his speed and agility. Carroll said his size has never been a factor: "I just found out I was short about two weeks ago." Carroll's weakness is his open-field tackling, Sherman said. "He is someone that we're going to have to coach up in some ways because he is young and he didn't have a whole lot of spring ball at Arkansas because he was running track, but this is a guy that is a worker," Sherman said. Carroll, who is represented by agent Eugene Parker, said he's confident he can earn a starting job as a rookie. "I've got the ability. I've got the speed. I've just got to listen to my coaches," he said. "I've got some good coaches, I'm going to go with a good tradition, a good program. If I just listen, I'll be a great player." Sherman spoke with McKenzie about his displeasure two weeks ago, but the rift remains and the frayed relationship might be irreparable. McKenzie isn't planning to attend the mandatory minicamp that begins Tuesday. He has boycotted offseason workouts in Green Bay, bypassing a $200,000 contract incentive to participate. McKenzie has three years left on his contract, which would pay him $2.75 million this season, a bargain for one of the NFL's top shutdown cornerbacks.