Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Pick First Overall in Draft after New Orleans Saints Defeat


Dec 28, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive back

Terrence Frederick

(37) reacts after he intercepted the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 1987, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.

The Bucs lost 23-20 to the New Orleans Saints Sunday afternoon, giving them the No.1 pick where they are widely expected to draft either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston.

Tampa Bay built a 20-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter but the Saints scored 16 straight points as Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes and Junior Galette sacked Bucs quarterback Josh McCown in the end zone for a safety to seal the win.

The Bucs had built their lead threw a touchdown pass from McCown to Mike Evans and an eight-yard Charles Sims run. Patrick Murray added two field goals. Khiry Robinson had a one-yard score for New Orleans.

The Bucs however rested a number of their star players including Evans and Lavonte David, instead giving playing time to second and third stringers, a move that has already forced head coach Lovie Smith to defend his personal decisions.

"“It had nothing to do with substitutions,” Smith told ESPN. “You look at how we played. To me, I’m going to go back, we’re moving the ball fairly well even in the second half. They played a lot better. We played a lot of guys the first half also. Vincent Jackson only played a few reps. That happened in the first half also, and the team we put on the football field had a chance to win right up until (the end).“Yeah, we didn’t have some of our best players there right in the end. But the guys we had in there we felt like we could move the ball and be able to win.”"

Jackson only played the first series after he left the game with a groin strain. However, he made one catch for 11 yards and combined with Evans’ 54 receiving yards, the pair became the first tandem in Bucs history to have 1000-yard receiving seasons in the same year. Evans also set a franchise record for touchdown receptions with 12.

Doug Martin had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season as he had 108 yards on the ground on 19 carries. The Bucs put up 280 yards of offense.

Tampa Bay intercepted Brees three times as Keith Tandy, Brandon McDougald and Leonard Johnson all had interceptions.

According to ESPN, the Bucs entered today’s game with a 72-2 record when leading by more than 13 points entering the fourth quarter in the regular season.

The last time the Bucs picked first overall, they took quarterback Vinny Testarverde. All signs appear as though they will draft another quarterback in either Mariota or Winston, who will square off in this year’s Rose Bowl. Bucs general manager Jason Licht is expected to be in attendance.

The NFL draft begins Apr. 30.