The NFL season officially gets underway tonight with the 2023 Draft. Analysts, pundits and experts have been speculating for weeks on how each team will fulfill its needs. Many of the top prospects have snuck up the draft board in the past few days and the war rooms are set to go. Through extensive research, our wing experts have completed our final mock draft for 2023. We're more interested in which wings each team will add to its roster!
The Panthers aren’t messing around this year. They need a QB and traded up with Chicago to get the first pick in this year’s Wingaddicts draft and are projected to select “Blackened wings" from Lebowski’s Neighborhood Grill in Charlotte. It's a contrarian pick for sure but impossible to resist.
There is a lot of speculation that Houston may pass on taking a QB here and opting for a game-changing edge rusher. Our experts predict the latter. The Texans will go with the "Spicy BBQ" wings from Big City Wings out of Kingwood, TX. They have 18 flavors on the board and were a People's Choice Award winner in 2022. Solid pick here.
It's likely that the Cardinals will trade down from this position and try to collect more picks, but if they stay at number three we see them surprising everybody and going to Monkey Pants Bar & Grill in Tempe and selecting the "Kick in the Crotch, Spankin' Monkey Sauce Wings." Further, they'll go with the grilled option for this (almost certain) future All-Pro selection.
After decades of world-class quarterback play form Payton Manning and then Drew Luck, the Colts have been searching to fill that void. This is the year they do it. With pick number four in this year's draft the Colts will select "Hermanaki Wings" as their new signal caller out of Ale Emporium in Castleton. A registered trademark, the Hermanaki wings are a secret blend of peppers, spices and a teriyaki sauce. Too much for opposing defenses to contain.
Seattle received this pick from Denver in the Russell Wilson deal last year and were blessed to see Geno Smith step up and take them to the playoffs. In this spot, the Seahawks will almost certainly look to solidify the interior defensive line with "Sriracha Thai Basil Wings" from The Westy in Roosevelt, WA. These fried jumbo wings are a run stopper on defense.
In another great draft spot, acquired by trading away a franchise QB, Detroit received this pick from the LA Rams for Matthew Stafford in 2021. The ever improving Lions had one of their finest seasons last year behind Jared Goff and this year will look to add to a talented defensive line. Sweetwater Tavern in downtown Detroit has won numerous awards for its wings over the years and, though they only have a single flavor on that menu, they do it to perfection. The Sweetwater Wings are marinated for 24 hours and served by the pound.
The Raiders are always a wildcard when it comes to drafting players, but they've always had an attraction to speed. We believe they'll look to address the cornerback position and we believe they'll look no further than The Voo Doo Wing Co. The "Spicy PB&J Wings" are a lock to be the first CB off the draft board, and Vegas is the perfect home.
Defensive back is one of Atlanta's pressing needs this season and the wings at Urban Wings are just what the doctor ordered. With 30 amazing flavors on the menu, the "Nola Time" wing is a perfect fit for the Falcons. It can play inside or outside and with bold flavors and bursts of Louisiana spices, will be physical at the line of scrimmage.
Having traded the draft's top pick to move back and collect more wings (great idea, by the way), the Bears will probably look for O-line help to protect quarterback Justin Fields. This pick couldn't be more clear cut. Chicago will go with "The Gameday Tower" at Jake Melnick's Corner Tap. This selection features a three-tiered tower with 48 wings and a choice of four different flavors. We think they opt for Whiskey BBQ and probably the April Wing of the Month "Space Truffle."
After a season that saw an impressive run to the Super Bowl, followed by signing Jalen Hurts to the biggest NFL contract in league history, the Eagles will spend this pick building up an offensive line that took some hits this off season. There are a lot of great wing spot in Philly, but we think their coaching staff loves what it sees with the award-winning wings at Union Taphouse. We believe that "Dmango Unchained" will be the next offensive line superstar and Jalen Hurts' new best friend.
With Derek Henry getting older and Ryan Tannehill starving for offensive options after seeing AJ Brown go to the Eagles (and the Super Bowl) we see the Titans looking for some speedy playmakers at receiver. An obvious place for them to look would be Broadway Brewhouse Downtown and the "Panama Hot" wings. Tossed in a jalapeno molasses glaze, this draft choice won't be dropping any footballs in the open field!
After snapping up those "Spicy BBQ" wings with the second pick in the draft, we see the Texans looking to offensive weapons in this slot. The most unique and skilled option here would be the "Brazilian Citrus & Garlic Wings" at Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. This one-of-a-kind wing is marinated in garlic lime juice and secret seasonings overnight and then battered in potato rice flour and deep fried to perfection. Impossible to defend.
Though they never used a first-round pick to get help for Aaron Rodgers when he was at the helm, we expect the Packers to look for a tight end in this slot as a safety valve for new-era QB, Jordan Love. They would benefit from a big, fast TE who can catch the ball in the middle of the field and block for the Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Look no further than the "Scary Larry" wings from Legend Larry's. This national award-winning wing is extra hot without sacrificing flavor. And it's scary!
Over their history will Bill Belichick, the Pats have built a reputation as been a no-nonsense value grabber, taking the best available player on the board. Though they return a strong defensive unit, they suddenly find themselves as the weakest team in the AFC East in need of offensive help for Mac Jones. We see them adding to their offensive backfield here and taking the first runningback in the draft. No nonsense here. Straight "Buffalo Style" hot wings from Buff's Pub in Newtown, MA which is coined Boston's Best Wings.
With Aaron Rodgers in the building and strong weapons all around him, the Jets are in win now mode. The best way for them to do that will be to keep Rodgers clean in the pocket. The best way to insure that is by adding to the offensive line. No guesswork here. The Jets will go to Virgil's Real BBQ in Times Square and select the traditional Virgil's BBQ wings. Marinated and smoked to perfection, these are the giant, robust full wing selections that can stop any pass rusher in his tracks.
When we think of the great Super Bowl champion "Redskins" teams we remember "The Hogs." Washington won with a vaunted offensive line and skilled position players all around. While they are in a bit of rebuilding mode at this point, the Commanders will most likely use this pick to improve that offensive line. With many solid offensive line players in this year's class, we think they'll look no further than Wingo's in Glover Park for the "Bite Me" wings. Fits the mold perfectly in DC.
The Steelers have several needs to fill as the Bengals flex their dominance in the division and the Ravens and Browns both continue to improve. But Pittsburgh is a chicken wing hot spot and the Steelers get the "steal" of the draft over at Big Shot Bob's with the "Wink & Gun" wings; last on a menu of over 120 flavors. We originally thought they might choose "The Talk of Beaver Falls" wings here, but this pick is both an offensive weapon and as well as a special teams nightmare for opposing teams.
Another early draft pick for Detriot means another strong addition to a stout defensive unit. Here, we see the Lions going outside the "norm" and picking up some serious "Jerk Wings" at Coop Caribbean Fusion at the Detroit Shipping Company.
Well, Tom Brady is done for good and Baker Mayfield is here to replace him. That may or may not be an OK bandage for a little while, but Tampa has a shot here to get a great deal on a potential franchise quarterback. We see them going for the "St Hetersburg Hot" wings from Tryst Gastro Lounge in downtown St. Pete's. This is a solid choice with tremendous upside. In other words, it's a no-brainer.
The Legion of Boom isn't what it used to be, but with the return of Bobby Wagner and two first-round draft selections they're trending in the right direction. Having used the fifth pick on the D-Line, we see the Hawks going linebacker at number twenty. Sisters and Brothers is a Nashville Hot Chicken joint in Seattle and boasts "Seattle Hot" wings which are a can't miss moniker for the "New" Legion of Boom.
With superstar QB Justin Herbert on the verge of a long-term extension (most likely), Keenan Allen aging, Mike Williams injury prone and star halfback Austin Ekeler unhappy it would make sense to see the Chargers going for an offensive playmaker here. We see them using this pick on "Bangkawk BBQ" wings at Dirty Birds Bar & Grill. With more than 30 gourmet flavors on this menu, Dirty Bird definitely churns out playmakers!
Nobody is going to be surprised that "Honey Old Bay" wings fell to the Ravens at number-22 in this draft. From Kisling's Tavern and under the menu heading "Baltimore's Best Wings" Kisling's serves up 24 flavors including this Baltimore classic. The Ravens need to address the cornerback position and Old Bay is the cornerstone of wing flavors in the DMV.
The Vikings defense let them down badly last season to the point where their high-flying offense needed to score 30 points a game to win. Normally you might not see a game-changing defensive player fall all the way to number 23, but the Vikes are thrilled to see "Bomba Wings" still sitting on the board from Ray J's American Grill. This combination can help shut down even an elite passing game.
For the past two years in a row, Jacksonville has enjoyed pick number one in the draft but how times have changed. After an impressive playoff run and the steady emergence of second-year QB Trevor Lawrence, the Jags are suddenly relevant for the first time in a long time. Clearly, they'll want to pad the offensive line here to protect "the franchise" so they'll turn to the franchise, Hurricane Grill & Wings for the "Secret Weapon" wings. Shhhh.
The Giants season came as a bit of a surprise last year as they posted a winning record, made the playoffs and even handed the Vikings a first-round beating. Daniel Jones stepped up and enjoyed a breakout season and Saquon Barkley returned to form. But the Giants also played a last-place schedule and got notably poor play at the wide receiver position. They look at addressing that weakness by going to the spot with more wing flavors than anywhere else in the country. Marley's Gotham Grill has over 300 flavors on its menu and the Giants will automatically improve its receiving room by adding the "Blue By You" wings! Go Big Blue.
The Cowboys boast one of the most electric defensive pass rushes in the NFC and don't come into this draft looking to improve there. However, that being said, they just will not be able to pass up the "Lemon Pepper" wings at The Mucky Duck Bar. This is the common sense pick to help be able to contain the dangerous Eagles offense come playoff time.
The AFC East was owned by the Patriots for over a decade and now it's the most-competitive division in the league. That said, the Bills are best served by giving star QB Josh Allen more tools to put up points. No team in the league has a greater pool of wing joints to choose from (I mean they're Buffalo wings for goodness sake) and we see them passing on Anchor Bar and going straight to Bar-Bill Tavern for the "Cajun Honey Butter BBQ" wings. The rich get richer.
With one of the most-explosive offenses in the entire league, the Bengals will use their first rounder on an interior defensive lineman from O'Bryon's Bar & Grill where they'll select the jumbo "Habanero Ranch" wings to fill the void and stop the run.
Looking to bolster a defensive line that took some hits in the off season, the Saints will look to add an edge pass rusher here near the end of round one. On the board still, they find an unexpected prize from Bayou Hot Wings and jump all over the "Bayou Beast" wings with five heat-chilis on the menu. Who wouldn't love a Bayou Beast to get after opposing quarterbacks?
We have the Eagles adding to their defensive line with the tenth pick in the draft and we see more of the same here at the end of the round with their next choice. Fittingly, the reigning NFC Champs will use this pick to select the "I Dare You" wings from Landmark Americana Tap & Grill. The hottest wings on the menu pretty much say it all.
You can't rest on your laurels, but when you're the Super Bowl champions you have fewer needs to fill than most clubs do. With the last pick in the first round of the Wingaddicts Draft, the Chiefs kick back at Kansas City's oldest bar, The Peanut where they select (ironically) the "Buffalo Wing." This could be the continuance of a lovely rivalry.
That ends the official Wingaddicts mock draft for 2023. Note that the Miami Dolphins did not have a pick in the first round, having forfeited that pick for tampering violations. They probably would have picked boneless nuggets. Enjoy the season! And let us know if you get the chance to try out any of those awesome wing spots by reviewing them on the Wingaddicts app!
Tommy Wyatt is co-founder of Wingaddicts and author of “Under the Wingfluence” for Wingaddicts.com.
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* Photo credits for this post belong to each individual restaurant's Facebook page.