Deandre Baker: ‘I know I’m the best cornerback in this draft. I don’t believe, I know it.’
ATHENS, Ga. — Deandre Baker has cornered the market on confidence.
The Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back, Baker put on a show at Georgia’s Pro Day on Wednesday, dazzling NFL personnel with his speed, quickness, and burst.
The performance allowed Baker, who has long claimed he was the best cornerback in the country, to put a sluggish Combine in the rearview. After his workout was complete, Baker was asked if he still believed he was the best.
“I know I’m the best cornerback in this draft, I don’t believe, I know it. My film speaks for itself, my stats, everything,’’ said the first-team All-American. “My production week in and week out, you can go back to 2017, or from the first day I started I was the best corner in the nation.’’
Baker said “a lot of [NFL] teams” have informed him that they agree with the assessment and that he’ll likely be among the first names called on April 25.
Baker, who acknowledged he ran a disappointing 4.52 at the Combine, turned in a sizzling 4.4 Wednesday, said he hasn’t met with anyone from the Patriots yet, but coach Bill Belichick was in attendance Wednesday.
“That just makes me go a little bit harder,’’ Baker said, when asked if he felt any extra pressure with New England’s coach on hand. “Boosts the stakes up a little higher. The more pressure, the better I perform.’’
Representatives from all 32 teams were at the workout.
The Atlanta Falcons had 11 people scouting the 21 NFL hopefuls and Baker said it’d be “a dream come true” to be able to continue playing in the state of Georgia.
“Deandre had a really good day today,’’ said Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff. “He’s obviously quick, fast, explosive, can run, and cover the field. Very good range that way. He’s being reported as one of the best in the country in the draft, so it will be interesting to see how that plays off.’’
Dimitroff wasn’t about to tip his hand, however, when asked if he agreed with the assessment.
“He’s a very good football player,’’ he said with a laugh.
Big on Bulldogs
Last year Belichick plucked a pair of Bulldogs in the first round, with Isaiah Wynn at 23 and Sony Michel at 31.
Michel had a terrific rookie season, including a six-touchdown splurge in the playoffs that he capped by scoring the lone touchdown in the Super Bowl LIII win over the Rams. Wynn tore his Achilles’ in the preseason but is projected to take over the starting left tackle spot in 2019.
The Patriots also signed center David Andrews as an undrafted rookie in 2015 and drafted receiver Malcolm Mitchell in the fourth round in 2016.
Tight end regroups
Tight end Isaac Nauta was another player looking to forget his Combine numbers. He put up a 4.91 in the 40 in Indianapolis but the 6-foot-3-inch, 244-pounder was able to shave some time on his home turf. “I was able to regroup [and] come back and hit the numbers I wanted today,’’ said Nauta, who said he was told his hand-held numbers ranged from 4.59 to 4.80. “I feel much better walking out of here today.’’ Nauta met with Patriots coaches at the Combine and shook Belichick’s hand Wednesday . . . Running back Elijah Holyfield wasn’t able to improve on his Combine 40 time of 4.78, which was second lowest among running backs . . . Georgia coach Kirby Smart said it’s important to remember the Combine and the Pro Day aren’t the end-all, be-all for these players. “We still say your tape will speak volumes to who you are, and a lot of our kids have some good tape,’’ he said . . . Kirby said he was unaware that Belichick wore an Alabama sweatshirt in Tuscaloosa Tuesday when the Georgia coach was asked if he had thought about getting Belichick some new Bulldog duds. “I’m good with whatever Bill wants to wear,’’ he said. For the record, Belichick wore a blue Massachusetts Coalition of Police hoodie Wednesday . . . Georgia’s new $30.2 million digs were recently named the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Facility — which quickly has become known around campus as “The House of Payne.’’ Billy Payne, who recently retired as the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, and his father, Porter, both lettered in football at Georgia and both won a pair of SEC championships.