How Packers Draft Bust Ahmad Carroll Earned the Nickname ‘Highway 28’

Just having the talent to get to the NFL doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be successful as a pro. Many, many players drafted as high as No. 1 or No. 2 flamed out rather quickly without making it. Some of the top picks, like quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf, become infamous busts.

But we’re here today to learn the story of Ahmad Carroll. The draft bust is forgotten by most NFL fans — except for Green Bay fans. The cornerback was a rare miss for the Packers.

Ahmad Carroll’s road to the NFL

Cornerback Ahmad Carroll of the Green Bay Packers looks on during a 2004 game
Ahmad Carroll of the Green Bay Packers during a 2004 game | Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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Carroll was a strong player in his Pop Warner days and went on to star for his high school team, becoming an All-Area cornerback. The Atlanta native was considered one of the top cornerback prospects in the country. He recorded 70 tackles in his senior year at Frederick Douglass High School, earning him a selection as a ESPN/Reebok All-American. \

Carroll received a scholarship to play at the University of Arkansas. There, he had four interceptions, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, and 170 tackles in three seasons, according to Sports Reference. That was good enough for the Packers to make him a first-round pick, at No. 25 overall, in the 2004 NFL draft.

Carroll struggles in the NFL

Carroll went on to have a short and unremarkable career in the NFL. The Packers cut him in 2006 — his third season in the league, details Pro Football Reference. He finished the campaign with the Jaguars. He didn’t play in 2007, then the Jets picked Carroll up in 2008 for his last two seasons in the league.

Carroll ended his career with 57 games — 28 starts — in five seasons, with PackersTalk describing his stats as “3 sacks, 3 INT, 1 FR, countless blown coverages,” calling him “the absolute worst.” One of his biggest issues involved penalties. Madison.com recaps a 2005 game where Carroll was called for four penalties, three enforced. The game delay and offsides penalties were enforced, as well as a four-yard pass interference call at the end of the first half.

A second pass interference flag was declined because Chad Johnson made the 38-yard catch against Carroll, despite the flag. After the game, Carroll blamed the calls on his “reputation or whatever” and said he has to deal with it. He also said the offsides penalty was the only one he agreed with, saying he “[doesn’t] agree with none of those (other) penalties.”

Ahmad Carroll earns the nickname Highway 28′

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During his short career, Carroll earned the nickname “Highway 28” from opposing players because “there was no faster way to the end zone than through No. 28, Ahmad Carroll” according to PackersTalk.

The news source called Carroll the Packers’ “worst memory against Seattle” until the Fail Mary. It said “he is the Tony Mandarich of Packers draft busts on the defensive side.” Mandarich was an offensive tackle the Packers took with the No. 2 pick in 1989. He struggled greatly during his career, which eventually ended due to drug and alcohol issues.

After the Jets cut Carroll in November 2009, he would go on to play for various minor league football teams and in the CFL. He announced his retirement from football after winning the Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts in 2012.