It was a different day and location, but there was still a pretty good draft party going on at Lambeau Field.
The annual event shifted from the Atrium to Curly's Pub this year with the first round of the draft in prime time on Thursday night. But there was hardly an empty seat in Lambeau's signature restaurant before the draft started, and there already was plenty of enthusiasm even though the Packers, slotted at No. 23, were at least three hours away from making a selection.
"At first I wasn't real crazy about the new format, but now that I'm here I'm going to give it a chance," said fan Bruce Roehsner of Menomonee Falls, Wis., a regular attendee of previous draft parties. "Instead of a long one-day event now it's broken into two days. I think I like it.
"We got here early, got the best seats in the house, and we'll be back tomorrow."
Roehsner was hard to miss in the rather crowded venue, decked out in an impressive homemade Packers throwback uniform modeled after the 1929 uniforms the Packers will wear as a throwback at some point in the 2010 season.
Roehsner's outfit featured a blue-and-gold No. 12 jersey, with the leather number sewn on the back and leather patches sewn on the elbows. He also had beige canvas pants and a brown leather helmet he bought online, plus an Acme Packers canvas duffel bag.
It's no surprise Roehsner was a finalist for the Packers Fan Hall of Fame this past year, and he's been a regular visitor to Fan Fest as well, wearing his home-sewn throwback at this year's event back in February.
Lots of Packers fans have been thinking about the draft since then, and within the halls of Lambeau Field the preparation was well underway by that time. For the scouting and personnel staffs, the draft is the culmination of an entire year's worth of work.
"We're anxious to get started, anxious to get to a conclusion to see how it's going to work out," General Manager Ted Thompson said in a live radio interview inside Curly's just before the draft actually started. "A lot of people have put a lot of work into this, and we're excited to get some guys to help our team. That's ultimately the goal for all of us."
In addition to the live interview with Thompson, fans at the draft party also were treated to interviews with Head Coach Mike McCarthy and President/CEO Mark Murphy. Door prizes were available, as were the opportunities for autographs with players James Jones and Brad Jones.
As for the new format and schedule with the draft, those in attendance at Curly's seemed pretty fired up about the change, and as long as the TV ratings follow suit, it seems likely a similar structure is here to stay.
"The popularity of the draft is unbelievable," Murphy said. "This is something the league office felt very strongly about. They said we've got something valuable here and we have to put it in prime time and showcase it more."
No matter the format, there's seemingly no lack of suspense as to what the Packers will do with their first pick every year, and Thursday was no different. Thompson surprised everyone last year by making a trade to give Green Bay two first-round picks for the first time in 16 years.
Were there any surprises awaiting in 2010? The fans at Curly's were eager to find out.
"I just want them to take the best player, the best athlete," Roehsner said. "They've been talking about defense, so maybe a defensive back or linebacker. We'll wait and see what happens."