Packers fans didn't hate pick that didn't happen

Richard Ryman
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GREEN BAY - Well, that was ... interesting.

Or it will be Friday night when the Green Bay Packers make the first pick in the second round of the NFL draft.

Fans waiting for hours Thursday night for the Packers to make the 29th selection in the first round were less disappointed than you'd think when Green Bay traded that position for the 33rd and 108th picks. Fans at 1919 Kitchen & Tap in Lambeau Field, at least, were willing to go with general manager Ted Thompson's flow. But Michael Wirtz of Crown Point, Ind., got a text from his son at home who was less pleased.

"Yup. I stayed up for that?" he typed.

"He has to get up early for work," explained Wirtz, who with wife Tina drove up to be among Packers fans for draft weekend. Crown Point is Bears country.

Truth be told, Packers fans were pretty happy with Chicago's performance Friday. The Bears traded up one spot so they could take quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and Packers backers were convinced the Bears overpaid.

"I'm so happy," said Jim Anderson of Richfield. "The Bears are going to suck."

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It looked as though the San Francisco 49ers bamboozled Chicago into trading for the second pick by making them think they'd take Trubisky, when their real choice was Thomas Solomon. It reminded Tina Wirtz of the Kevin Costner movie "Draft Day."

"After the Bears pick, I said, 'I'm going to pull out that movie and watch it again,'" she said, smiling.

Anderson was with friends Alex Coon of Milwaukee and Scott Daniels of Green Bay. They gather annually for the draft, the last two years at Lambeau Field.

"I would be fine with that," Coon said early in the evening of the possibility of Thompson trading out of the first round. "After the first 20 guys, there's a big plateau."

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Some of their favorite choices remained at the end of the day Thursday, including Vince Biegel of Wisconsin and Jordan Willis of Kansas State.

"They need an edge rusher," Coon said.

Daniels was very unhappy that Thompson let guard T.J. Lang go to Detroit as a free agent, but all agreed defense was the most pressing need.

"We've got to protect (Aaron) Rodgers, but we need defense," Mike Wirtz said. "I think Thompson is confident his guys will be there (on Friday)."

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The restaurant was not as full this year as last, and by the time of the Packers' move, only the five of them remained. The Lambeau Field Atrium was packed when the NFL held the draft on Saturdays and conducted three rounds, which all five said they preferred. The NFL instead turned the draft into a three-night televised revenue generator, which in many cases made it easier to watch at home. Still, Mike Wirtz said Lambeau was the place to be.

"What a lot of people (who are not Packers fans) don't understand is the uniqueness," he said. "This place is gorgeous."

Anderson and Coon, who are half of the TapTakeover podcast crew, left behind Milwaukee Beer Week to be at Lambeau for the draft, though they plan on talking to several local brewers, too. For several years they had a difficult time finding a good place in Milwaukee to watch the draft. "We struggled to find a bar that would turn the sound on," Daniels said.

The trio said they weren't worried that Thompson would make a wrong move.

CHATPete Dougherty at 1 p.m. Friday

"Is it possible to pick Justin Harrell twice?" Coon said of one of Thompson's lesser accomplishments. "Probably if he picked a running back too high."

As it happened, he didn't. And they won't have to wait long Friday night to see just which moves the Packers are going to make.

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