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National Govt & Politics
Trump turns up pressure on GOP Congress to act on health care, tax reform

Trump turns up pressure on GOP Congress to act on health care, tax reform

Trump turns up pressure on GOP Congress to act on health care, tax reform
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Trump turns up pressure on GOP Congress to act on health care, tax reform

President Donald Trump on Monday declared Obamacare dead, as he urged Republicans in Congress to lead the way on solutions to overhaul the Obama health law, and to find a way to deliver a major tax reform package as well, making clear that he should not be blamed for any of the legislative miscues by GOP leaders in the House and Senate.

"I'm not going to blame myself - I'll be honest," the President told reporters, as he pointed the finger of blame directly at the Congress. "They are not getting the job done."

"I'm not happy about it," Mr. Trump said, reminding Republicans of what hasn't been done in the Congress this year.

"We need tax cuts, we need health care," the President said.

At the start of a Cabinet meeting at the White House, Mr. Trump said he thought his moves last week on health care would force Democrats to the bargaining table to come up with some kind of short-term deal on health care.

"I think the Democrats will be blamed for the mess," the President said. "This is an Obamacare mess."

Mr. Trump also optimistically said he thought there would be an agreement early next year on a GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law, something that has so far eluded Republicans in the Congress.

"Obamacare is finished, it's dead, it's gone," the President declared. "There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore.

In a nearly twenty minute statement to reporters, the President touched on more than just health care and taxes:

+ Mr. Trump said that welfare reform would now be a big issue; "some people are really taking advantage of the system," the President said.

+ The President denounced high prescription drug prices, saying the United States consumer is being taken advantage of by the drug companies. "The drug companies are frankly getting away with murder," he said.

+ The President again demanded action by the Congress on broader measures to tackle illegal immigration, specifically calling for an end to 'chain migration.'

+ Mr. Trump commented briefly on the Las Vegas massacre, saying the shooter was 'demented.'

+ The President again urged Congress to act on new safeguards for the Iran nuclear deal, again threatening to terminate the multilateral agreement.

+ Mr. Trump said he was asking his cabinet chiefs to see how they could save money on government spending. The President said the review was occurring, "as we head into next year's budget season" - but the U.S. Government is already into the 2018 Fiscal Year; that started on October 1.

Here are the full remarks of the President, as transcribed and provided by the White House:

11:42 A.M. EDT


     THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, thank you very much.  And today, we're here to discuss at the Cabinet meeting critical domestic policy issues.  I'd like to basically provide you with an update as to how we're doing for the American people, and we're doing a lot of great things.


     The unemployment rate is at a almost 17-year low.  The stock market is soaring to record levels.  We just hit a new high on Friday, and I think we're hitting another new high today because there's tremendous optimism having do with business in our country.


     The GDP growth has reached more 3 percent last quarter, and other than the hurricanes, it would have done phenomenally on this.  And I think we'll still do very well, but something will have to be taken off because of the tremendous problems of the massive hurricanes that we've had to endure.  And now, I guess, you can probably add the wildfires in California.


     But the economy cannot take off like it really has the potential to do unless we reduce the tax burden on the families, businesses, and workers of our country.  And we'll be able to do that.  I think we're getting tremendous receptivity from the people.  I hope we get the same receptivity from Congress.  But we are getting tremendous accolades for what we're doing having to do with both reform and with the massive tax cuts; it will be the largest tax cuts in the history of our country.


     We're one of the highest-taxed nations in the world right now, costing us millions of jobs and trillions and trillions of dollars.  It's time to restore America's competitive edge and pass historic tax cuts for the American people.  One point in GDP would be $2.5 trillion.  Think of that -- revenues.  One point -- if we go up from three to four.  And when I began, we were in the ones, and now the last quarter we were at 3.2 percent.  And we're going up higher.


     But if we went, as an example, from two to three or from three to four -- talking about $2.5 trillion.  And we're also talking about many millions of jobs.


     So we want to also reduce excessive government spending, and that's what we're working on at our Cabinet meeting today.  As we head into next year's budget season, I've asked Director Mulvaney to come up and find various savings in all of the departments that are gathered around the table, which is everybody.  I need my Cabinet to work with Director Mulvaney to fight these spending cuts -- fight for them -- and make sure that they happen.  And we want to make the departments as lean and efficient as possible, but at the same time, we're going to need departments with lots of heart, lots of heart.


     One thing we're going to be looking at very strongly is welfare reform.  That's becoming a very, very big subject, and people are taking advantage of the system.  And then other people aren't receiving what they really need to live, and we think it's very unfair to them.  But some people are really taking advantage of our system from that standpoint, and we are going to be looking very, very strongly there for welfare reform.  It's going to be a very big topic under this administration, and it started already.  And we have a lot of recommendations that we're going to be making, and you'll be hearing about them very shortly.


     The other thing we're doing that relates to people's lives is the prescription drug prices are out of control.  The drug prices have gone through the roof.  And if you look at the same exact drug by the same exact company, made in the same exact box and sold someplace else, sometimes it's a fraction of what we pay in this country -- meaning, as usual, the world is taking advantage of the United States.  They're setting prices in other countries and we're not.


The drug companies, frankly, are getting away with murder, and we want to bring our prices down to what other countries are paying, or at least close and let the other countries pay more.  Because they're setting such low prices that we're actually subsidizing other countries, and that's just not going to happen anymore. 


This has been going on for years where our people are paying so much more for it.  And I don't mean they're paying 2 percent more; I mean they're paying double, triple, quadruple.  They're paying so much more that it's very unfair to the United States, as usual.


Last week, I also sent a letter to Congress outlining my administration's top priorities for immigration reform.  This was a bottom-up effort driven by dedicated law enforcement professionals, and they took a big oath to protect our nation. 


The Justice Department is doing a fantastic job on the border and with regard to immigration -- more than anyone has ever seen before from a Justice Department.  Thank you very much, Jeff.  It's really had an impact and a very positive impact, and now we're going to take it to five steps further. 


Our proposal closes dangerous loopholes and vulnerabilities that enable illegal immigration, asylum fraud, and visa overstays.  The visa overstays are just -- you're talking about numbers that nobody even knows what they are, they're so out of control.  And we're going to take care of that.


When you look at what's going on in Mexico -- Mexico is having a tough time right now in terms of crime.  More than ever, we need the wall.  We have drugs pouring through on the southern border; they're literally pouring through.  And we have to have the wall, and we're going to have the wall.  But if you look at just what's happening on the other side of the border with the tremendous crime and the tremendous problems going on -- we have a very good relationship with Mexico but there are a lot of problems, and we don't want the drugs and we don't want the crime, but we need the wall.


Recently, we've asked Congress to ensure that any proposed immigration reform ends chain migration; one person comes in and then brings everybody in his family in with him or her.  And we have to end chain migration, which -- it's critical for creating a system that puts American workers and the American taxpayer first. 


Last Thursday, I proudly nominated Kirstjen Nielsen to serve as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  I urge the Senate to quickly confirm this really tremendously qualified nominee, and I also ask for my other nominees.


We have approximately half the number of nominees confirmed by the Senate because, frankly, the Democrats have terrible policy -- terrible -- and they're very good at, really, obstruction, the one thing they do well.  Their policy is no good, and I'm not even sure they're very good politicians because they don't seem to be doing too well.  That could be because of their bad policy.  But they're great at obstruction, and we have half the nominees that President Obama had at this time. 


It's very unfair.  They're taking everybody right after the final moment, in many cases confirming them with tremendous majorities.  But they're bringing them out purposefully.  They're bringing them right down to the final.  We have people that are totally qualified, they're going to pass, but they're going to have to wait a long time because it's total obstruction. 


I can say the same thing with our judicial nominees, our judges.  We have some of the most qualified people.  The Wall Street Journal wrote a story about it the other day, that this is some of the most qualified people ever, and they're waiting forever on line.  And it shouldn't happen that way.  It's not right, and it's not fair. 


     I want to thank Acting Secretary Elaine Duke for her leadership in responding to the catastrophic storms that have struck our nation and our territories. 


     We've also issued a disaster declaration in California in response to the devastating wildfires like we've never seen.  And we mourn the terrible loss of life.  We have FEMA and first responders there.  We have our military helping.  It's very sad to watch how fast -- how rapidly they move and how people are caught in their houses.  It's an incredible thing -- caught in their houses. 


So we have a lot of people helping -- the government in California -- and we've made a lot of progress in the last couple of days.  But we're a little subject to winds and what happens with nature, but it's been a -- it's a very sad thing to watch. 


     We also continue to pray for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas.  We cannot erase the pain of those who lost their loved ones but we pledge to never leave their side.  We're working with them very much so, with the FBI and law enforcement, Department of Justice.  And it's -- I guess a lot of people think they understand what happened, but he was a demented, sick individual.  The wires were crossed pretty badly in his brain -- extremely badly in his brain -- and it's a very sad event. 


     In each of these tragedies, we've witnessed, however, a tremendous strength and heroism of our people.  Each one of these tragedies that we've had, we have witnessed such strength and such heroism.  When Americans are unified, no destructive force on Earth can even come close to breaking us apart.  We have a lot of work to do on behalf of our magnificent country and our extraordinary citizens.


A great trust has been placed upon each member of our Cabinet.  We have a Cabinet that -- there are those that are saying it's one of the finest group of people ever assembled as a candidate -- as a Cabinet.  And I happen to agree with that.  Of course, I should agree with that.  But I think we have an extraordinary group of people around this table. 


This is a tremendous amount of talent, and I wouldn't say I was necessarily looking to be politically correct, although I ended up being politically correct because that was the right thing to do, in every sense of the word.  However, we have just gotten really, really great people.  I'm very proud of them. 


So we're going to work with all of those things I just outlined and many more.  You know we have the Iran Deal that right now is being studied, and I think a lot of people agreed with what I did.  I feel strongly about what I did.  I'm tired of being taken advantage of as a nation.  This nation has been taken advantage of for many, many years -- for many decades, frankly -- and I'm tired of watching it. 


But the Iran Deal was something that I felt had to be done, and we'll see what phase two is.  Phase two might be positive, and it might be very negative.  It might be a total termination.  That's a very real possibility; some would say that's a greater possibility.  But it could also could turn out to be very positive.  We'll see what happens. 


I thought the tone of the Iranian leaders was very modified, and I was happy to see that, but I don't know if that means anything.  They're great negotiators.  They negotiated a phenomenal deal for themselves but a horrible deal for the United States, and we're going to see what happens.


The healthcare, as you know, is moving along.  I knocked out the CSRs; that was a subsidy to the insurance companies.  That was a gift that was, frankly, what they gave the insurance companies.  Just take a look at their stocks.  Take a look at where their stock was when Obamacare was originally approved and what it is today.  You'll see numbers that anybody -- if you invested in those stocks, you'd be extremely happy. 


And they have given them, you could almost call it, a payoff.  And it's a disgrace.  And that money goes to the insurance companies.  We want to take care of poor people, we want to take care of people that need help with healthcare.  And that's what I'm here to do.  And I'm never going to get campaign contributions, I guarantee you that, from the insurance companies.  But a lot of other people got them.  If you look at the Democrats, take a look at that.  Take a look at how much money has been spent by the Democrats and by the health companies on politicians generally.  But take a look at the coffers of the Democrats.


So the CSR payments has actually brought Republicans and Democrats together, because we got calls -- emergency calls from the Democrats, and I think probably the Republicans were also calling them, saying, let's come up with at least a short-term fix of healthcare in this country.  And the gravy train ended the day I knocked out the insurance companies' money, which was last week.  Hundreds of millions of dollars a month handed to the insurance companies for very little reason, believe me.  I want the money to go to the people.  I want the money to go to poor people that need it.  I want the money to go to people that need proper healthcare, not to insurance companies, which is where it's going as of last week.  I ended that.


So we have a lot of interesting things to do.  I'm meeting with Mitch McConnell in a little while for lunch.  I think we're going to say a few words on the steps after that.  I know you won't have any questions.  And pretty much that's it.  Enjoy yourselves, folks, and I'll see you out there with Mitch McConnell.


Thank you very much.


     Q    Mr. President, do you approve of Steve Bannon’s war on Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment?


     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Steve is very committed.  He’s a friend of mine, and he’s very committed to getting things passed.


     I mean, look, I have -- despite what the press writes, I have great relationships with actually many senators, but in particular with most Republican senators.  But we're not getting the job done.


     And I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest.  They are not getting the job done.  We've had healthcare approved, and then you had the surprise vote by John McCain.  We've had other things happen, and they're not getting the job done.  And I can understand where Steve Bannon is coming from.  And I can understand -- to be honest with you, Jon, I can understand where a lot of people are coming from because I’m not happy about it and a lot of people aren’t happy about it.


     We need tax cuts.  We need healthcare.  Now, we're going to get the healthcare done.  In my opinion, what’s happening is, as we meet -- Republicans are meeting with Democrats because of what I did with the CSR, because I cut off the gravy train.  If I didn't cut the CSRs, they wouldn’t be meeting.  They’d be having lunch and enjoying themselves, all right? 


     They're right now having emergency meetings to get a short-term fix of healthcare where premiums don't have to double and triple every year like they've been doing under Obamacare.  Because Obamacare is finished.  It’s dead.  It’s gone.  It’s no longer -- you shouldn’t even mention.  It’s gone.  There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore.  It is -- and I said this years ago:  It’s a concept that couldn’t have worked.  In its best days it couldn’t have worked.


     But we're working on some kind of a short-term fix prior to the Republicans getting together, maybe with some Democrats -- again, it’s obstruction -- but maybe with some Democrats, to fix healthcare permanently. 


     So I think we’ll have a short-term fix with Republicans and Democrats getting together.  And after that, we're going to have a successful vote because, as you know, we were one vote short, and I think we have the votes right now.  Whether it’s through block grants or something else -- block-granting the money back to the states, which does seem to make sense where the states run it because it’s a smaller form of government that can be more individually sensitive.  So that will happen fairly shortly.  As soon as we have the next reconciliation, I think we’ll get the vote for healthcare.  I feel very confident about that.  I think we already have the vote for healthcare.


     Sadly, the Democrats can't join us on that, which will be the long-term fix.  But I do believe we’ll have a short-term fix because I think the Democrats will be blamed for the mess.  This is an Obamacare mess. 


     When the premiums go up, that has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that we had poor healthcare -- delivered poorly, written poorly, approved by the Democrats.  It was called Obamacare. 


     But I think we’ll have a short-term fix and then we’ll have a long-term fix, and that will take place probably in March or April.  We will have a very solid vote.  It will be probably 100 percent Republican -- no Democrats.  But most people know that that's going to be a very form of health insurance. 


     So that will be it.  Okay?  Any other questions?  No?  Thank you I’ll see you in a little while.


     Q    (Inaudible) Bannon campaigning against Republicans running for reelection?


     THE PRESIDENT:  I know how he feels.  Depends on who you're talking about.  There are some Republicans, frankly, that should be ashamed of themselves.  But most of them -- I tell you what, I know the Republican senators; most of them are really, really great people that want to work hard, and they want to do a great thing for the American public.


     But you had a few people that really disappointed us.  They really, really disappointed us.  So I can understand fully how Steve Bannon feels.  Okay?  Thank you very much.


     Q    Thank you.


     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.


                                       END                      12:00 P.M. EDT

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  • Almost four years after he suffered a terrifying injury, Devon Gales is returning to the sidelines.  Jefferson High School officials announced the former college football player will join the football staff as an assistant coach this year.  'I'm back in my element. I get to be around a sport that I really love. I get to coach it now, so it’s a whole different feeling,' Gales said. Channel 2's Tyisha Fernandes has been following Gales' incredible recovery since that September day in 2015. The Southern University wide receiver suffered a paralyzing neck injury when he collided with UGA kicker Marshall Morgan during a kickoff return in Athens. Gales has always dreamed of being on the field again as a coach. Someone he knew at Southern University mentioned to school officials how good of a coach Gales would be. That's when Jefferson head coach Jean Cathcart called. Gales couldn't believe it was real.  “The coach was like, ‘How would you like to have a job?’ I need a job. I’ve been without a job for three years,' he told Fernandes. RELATED STORIES UGA kicker involved in paralyzing collision with Devon Gales says it changed his life Devon Gales, family finally break ground on new home years after tragic accident Devon Gales attends wedding of ex-UGA kicker involved in paralyzing collision Cathcart told Fernandes Gales will have an immediate impact on the teens because his positive attitude is such an inspiration. But the coach wasn't sure if Gales would even want the job. 'His mom was like 'You know he misses the game, he misses practices, he misses games, he misses being around the camaraderie and eveything . So Coach Jackson said, 'Why don’t we get him involved?' Cathcart said. Gales told Fernandes he’s beyond excited for this new venture. “I’ve just been thinking I’m gonna be a coach. I’m really talking to kids, doing receivers and special teams. It’s just really a humbling experience and just teaching the kids what I know and what I’ve learned,' he said. Jefferson High School is not far from the home that is being built for Gales and his family. Fernandes attended a groundbreaking ceremony for it in August.  The house will give the family the chance to live together -- something they haven’t been able to do since Gales was paralyzed in 2015. 
  • Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards has been honored for his work with youth in the Athens area. From the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office... On the evening of March 16th, Hill Chapel Baptist Church along with Reverend Benjamin E.V. Lett, hosted the 10th Annual Legacy Awards Scholarship Banquet. Sheriff Ira Edwards, Jr. was presented the Civics Legacy Award by Minister Susan Johnson and Minister Charlie Maddox. Sheriff Edwards was presented for his service to citizens at the local, state and national level. Among the citations were his service to youth, directing our local DARE program and as an adjunct instructor with the Athens Technical College. He is a board member for the Athens Tutorial Program, Georgia Conflict Center of Northeast Georgia, St. Mary’s Hospital and Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Homes. Sheriff Edwards also serves on the Executive Advisory Board for D.A.R.E. International and as an Executive board member for the National Sheriff’s Association. Sheriff Edwards has also won numerous awards locally, statewide and nationally. He was also the first African American to win a county wide election as a constitutional officer. Sheriff Edwards took office on January 1st, 2001 and has served in law enforcement for the past 32 years.
  • A Hall County SWAT team helped Jefferson Police officers apprehend a man who barricaded himself inside a home in Jefferson: Police say they used tear gas and a taser to take the man into custody; he’s facing a long list of felony charges.  The Georgia State Patrol says there were no injuries i a Tuesday school bus accident in Madison County.  The bus wrecked near a mobile home park on Highway 72 in Madison County. The Hall County Sheriff’s Office says a hit-and-run case remains under investigation, even after the arrest of the accused hit-and-run driver: Mitchell Tostenson is 50 years old, from Flowery Branch. He’s charged with hitting a man with whom he’d been arguing near McEver Elementary School in Gainesville. The victim sustained serious but non life-threatening injuries.  The four people arrested after Tuesday’s high-speed police chase in Lumpkin County are facing charges that range from traffic violations to possession of marijuana and methamphetamine. The police pursuit that began in Lumpkin County ended when the driver, identified as Samantha Woody, crashed her car in north Hall County.  There is an arson investigation in Loganville: Gwinnett County firefighters say the blaze that burned an abandoned mobile home was intentionally set. There were no injuries. Police in Alpharetta say they will look for ways to crack down on crime at hotels in Alpharetta: they say forty percent of the criminal activity in the city takes place in and around Alpharetta’s two dozen hotels. Crimes range from drug trafficking to human trafficking. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia football fan-favorite Elijah Holyfield just wants to hear his named called in the NFL draft and play football. The departing Georgia tailback breathed a sigh of relief after his performance in the so-called “House of Payne” UGA indoor football facility, the combine-like pro day workout finally behind him. RELATED: Kirby Smart proud of the way Bulldogs competed at pro day “I’m a guy who likes to play football, not all the other stuff,” said Holyfield, who was born in College Park. “You don’t play football in a combine, you play football on the field.” The combine is, however, part of the evaluation process. Holyfield’s prospects as an NFL tailback were more closely scrutinized after he ran a 4.78-second 40-yard dash in Indianapolis on March 1. Holyfield re-tested on Wednesday, running anywhere between a 4.76 and 4.89, according to media and scouts in attendance. WATCH: AJC and DawgNation break down Georgia Pro Day “I try not to worry about it, I have confidence in myself, I can play football,” Holyfield said. “I might not run the fastest 40 in the world, but I can play football better than a lot of people.” Holyfield said he contemplated returning for his senior season, but he had reasonable concerns about the injury risk and the likelihood he could repeat and surpass the 1,000-yard rushing season he enjoyed in 2018. Georgia coach Kirby Smart have high praise to Holyfield on Wednesday. “Elijah is going to be a great pro, Elijah brings a lot to a team, he brings a toughness, he brings a demeanor about him, he loves to work,” Smart said. “He was the last guy off the field every day here, catching extra balls. He’s done a tremendous job in our program, he’s going to do the same thing in that organization. “The stripes of a player don’t change when they go to the next level, so I know he’s going to convert what he’s done well here into the same thing there.” Holyfield said he has an interview with the Houston Texans on Thursday, and next week he will fly to New Orleans to meet with the Saints before returning to Atlanta to meet with Philadelphia on March 29. Georgia football RB Elijah Holyfield The post WATCH: Elijah Holyfield not sweating slow 40 times, ready for more football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — The numbers are in the books, and while they vary slightly from one team to another, NFL teams have a pretty good idea about Georgia football players. The Bulldogs annual pro day was among the final pieces of the puzzle, with players still having some individual meetings left with the various franchises leading up to the NFL draft April 25-27 in Nashville. AJC-DawgNation experts Mike Griffith and D. Orlando Ledbetter discussed Wednesday’s results at the conclusion of pro day. It seemed Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta came away the biggest winner, relative to how he tested at the combine in Indianapolis earlier this month. Nauta improved his 40-yard dash time from 4.91 in Indy to times clocked between 4.71 and 4.83. UGA coach Kirby Smart, who was on hand to support the 21 former Georgia players testing out in front of the NFL teams, said he had sent a message of encourage to Nauta leading up to pro day. “I just sent him a text message that he’s got a lot of good tape out there, not to get overwhelmed with one moment, don’t be disappointed, “ Smart said. “You could run a great time and have too much expectation, or you could run a poor time worse than what you think you should, and you still have tape out there.” That’s the bottom line for all of the Georgia players with realistic NFL expectations. But still, the combine element matters, as team turn over every stone before investing millions into their roster. Unofficial 40 times from Georgia pro day (media cross-section) • Isaac Nauta 4.71 to 4.83 (4.91 at combine) • Elijah Holyfield 4.76 to 4.89 (4.78 at combine) • Jonathan Ledbetter 5.11 to 5.13 (5.14 at combine) • Deandre Baker 4.46 to 4.49   (4.52 at combine) • Jayson Stanley 4.37 to 4.47 (did not attend combine) Mecole Hardman (4.33), Terry Godwin (4.55), Riley Ridley (4.58) all stood on their NFL combine times and did not run on Wednesday. Mike Griffith and D. Orlando Ledbetter   The post WATCH: AJC-DawgNation breaks down Georgia pro day, 40 times appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — And the star of UGA’s Pro Day was … Jarvis Wilson. That’s right, the same Jarvis Wilson who did not start a single game in his four-year career as a Georgia safety. Based on the “measurables” that the NFL holds so dear, Wilson “blew it up” Wednesday at UGA’s Pro Day. He had 24 reps of the 225 pound on the bench press — better than all the Bulldogs, linemen included — then put up a sub-4.4 time in the 40-yard dash. Can’t miss prospect, right? No, we all know that it’s highly unlikely that Wilson will get drafted. And that’s no knock on the young man from Tupelo, Miss. All he’s ever done is everything his coaches and counselors told him to do, from high school through college. He’ll graduate sometime over the next few months, probably get a few camp invites here and there, then go about the business of living this life. Jackson Harris is another Bulldogs who had a great day Wednesday. He was clocked at 4.71 seconds in the 40. That’s an incredible time for a 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end. It was considerably better than the tight end about which there was the most fuss coming into this exercise. That’d be Isaac Nauta. The junior who chose to enter the draft early was thanking his lucky stars for breaking 4.8 seconds in the 40 this time. He was unable to do that when he went through this same round of testing a month ago at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Jordan Jenkins, as he has been for the last couple of years, was inside Georgia’s Payne Athletic Facility Wednesday taking in all the festivities. He was smiling and laughing a lot. It wasn’t just because he was happy to be back at UGA, which he was. It was because it wasn’t him having to go through the testing this time. “I hated it; hated it,” Jenkins said, repeating himself for emphasis. “I always sucked when it came to testing. I don’t why, but I never did as well as I thought I could.” You know what Jenkins doesn’t suck at? Playing football. Fortunately for him, the New York Jets saw through his testing numbers and drafted him in the third round in 2016. Since then he has played in 46 NFL games, with 37 starts. Jenkins said he ran a 4.8 at the combine the year he came out of Georgia, with a top time of 4.77. He was incredulous on Wednesday when he heard Harris’ 40 time. “No way is Jackson faster than me,” Jenkins said with a hardy laugh. “I know that for a fact. No way!” Not to play total cynic here but, from what I’ve witnessed over the years, I’m thinking it doesn’t matter a whole lot what kind of numbers one posts at these events. It’s my belief that the NFL execs already have a pretty strong idea who they want and what direction they’re going to go in the draft before they put these guys through the paces. All the testing and everything they do primarily gives them to ammunition to de-value prospects wherever they can. Of course, it’s the NFL’s game and their rules and they can make prospects do anything they want. There’s nothing make-believe about the money they pay and what can be bought with that money. But football is football and one can either play the game or not. And when you’re coming out of a program like Georgia — or Alabama or Florida or most any Power 5 — they have all the proof they need to that end from three or four years of playing genuine, meaningful games. Which brings us to the case of Deandre Baker. Baker is Georgia’s most promising prospect for the draft class of 2019. When he finished up with the Bulldogs in December, won the Jim Thorpe Award and All-America honors and then decided to skip the Sugar Bowl, he was considered a lock to be an early first-rounder and likely the first cornerback taken in this year’s draft. Since then, most of what we’ve heard about Baker has been negative. He didn’t test well at the combine, and we’re told from “insiders” that he hasn’t been preparing hard enough and hasn’t “helped himself” as far as his draft position. The word coming in was Baker’s draft stock has been “slipping,” and that 4.52 at the combine didn’t help. Fortunately for Baker, he appears to have helped himself Wednesday with a 40-yard time reportedly in the 4.4s. Neither UGA nor the NFL shared any “official” data in real time during the proceedings, so we’re going on second-hand intel. But Baker, for one, said he ran “a 4.4” was he happy with all that he was able to show scouts Wednesday. “It was a good day overall,” Baker said afterward. “It’s been a hard process, but you’ve got to love it because it’s for better things.” Good for him. Then again, just how necessary was it for Baker to show he could run a sub-4.4? I mean, doesn’t he have four years worth of real football data to show scouts? Let’s see, Baker played in 51 football games while at Georgia. Considering the defense was on the field for about half of those, that’s roughly 1,530 minutes — or 25½ hours — of game video available to review. The Bulldogs also video every minute of every practice so, that’s another 280 hours of video to look at over four years. Of course, Baker has produced all sorts of statistical data produced over that span, too. You can google them up by the dozens, but the plainest and most impressive stat to me is this one: Zero TDs allowed in more than 700 snaps over two seasons. One might note, the Bulldogs have played some pretty good teams for some pretty high stakes these past two years. Apparently this is something on which Baker and I agree. “You know, they just want to see your raw speed, your raw ‘vert. It’s just another way to to test you,” Baker said, still sweating from the going through Wednesday’s DB drills alongside Wilson. “But you always have to put it together on film and I do that all the time. My film is undeniable. You can’t overlook what I do on the field. So I don’t really pay attention that other stuff.” To be sure, evaluating football players is a tough task. I read somewhere that the NFL gets it right on draft prospects less than 50 percent of the time. But NFL almost always gets it right is once players make a roster. After that, you can either play or you can’t. One can either hang or they can’t. In Baker’s case, you can either cover or you can’t. I’m thinking Baker can cover. And regardless of where he gets drafted next month, early first round, late-first, second, I believe he’s going to play in the league for a while. Maybe then he can come back to Georgia for some future Pro Days and join Jenkins on the sideline some good laughs. The post Georgia’s Deandre Baker: ‘My film is undeniable; you can’t overlook what I do on the field’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS —  The Falcons sent a large contingent over to Georgia’s Pro Day on Wednesday.  The crowd of NFL executive, scouts and coaches included Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, assistant general manager Scott Pioli and Patriots coach Bill Belichick.  “This is a really busy time of the year of course, to have double-digits here both sides, coaching and scouting, means a lot to us,” Dimitroff said. “The athletes in this state and the athletes at this school, we are always going to be really honed in on it. I think today we had a lot of people here and we gleaned a lot of information here. It’s good.” A total of 21 former Bulldogs participated in the drills. Here are 10 things we learned:  1. Holyfield is a football player. Running back Elijah Holyfield ran slow again. He was timed in the high 4.7s and low 4.8s on both of his 40-yard dashes. The target time for running backs in 4.55 seconds. “Of course, it’s a concern and how high you determine that to be sort of the guiding light,” Dimitroff said. “Obviously, he’s a good football player. We have to keep an eye on that. He’s a good football player and knows how to play this game.” 2. Baker had a better showing. Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker improved on his time of 4.51 from the scouting combine. He ran his first 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds. “I know I’m the best cornerback in the draft,” Baker said. Dimitroff is hearing that Baker is the top corner in the country, too.  “Deandre had a really good day today,” Dimitroff said. “He’s quick, fast and explosive. He can run. Cover the field. Very good range that way. He’s being (mentioned) as one of the best in the country in the draft. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.”  3. Falcons on hand. In addition to Dimitroff and Piolo, the Falcons had coaches Raheem Morris (assistant head coach/wide receivers), Mike Mularkey (tight ends), Chris Morgan (offensive line), Bob Kronenberg (assistant offensive line), Jess Simpson (defensive line coach), Travis Jones (assistant defensive line), Chad Walker (defensive assistant, Doug Mallory (defensive backs) and Jerome Henderson (passing game coordinator).  Also, area scout Tokunbo Abanikanda and scouting assistant Penil Jean were on hand.  4. Dimitroff and Smart. Dimitroff and Georgia coach Kirby Smart were chatting on the field during the defensive linemen drills.  5. Ledbetter had strong showing. Georgia defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter also went through the outside linebacker drills for the 3-4 teams.  6. Gaillard scouted: Morgan and Kronenberg closely watch former Bulldog center Lamont Gaillard. Dimitroff said that despite signing two guards in free agency the Falcons were not done fixing the offensive line and finding youth and depth.  7. Baker, Falcons. Baker said that he has not met with the Falcons, who must replace three cornerbacks after getting rid of Robert Alford, Brian Poole and Justin Bethel. 8. Hardman dazzled. Former Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman helped himself with a strong showing. He’s ability to change direction and keep rolling at a high rate of speed was impressive. He’s viewed as a returner with some upside as a receiver.  9. Nauta relying on his film. Tight end Issac Nauta, who ran a 4.91 at the combine, was hoping to improve his team. “I bounced back today,” Nauta said.  10. Ridley reunion. Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley was on hand to provide support for his brother Riley Ridley.  Also, former Georgia linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who plays for the New York Jets, was on hand for Pro Day.    The post AJC-DawgNation expert: 10 things learned at Georgia football pro day appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Kirby Smart and Bill Belichick visited for several minutes visiting in Georgia’s so-called “House of Payne” indoor facility Wednesday afternoon. All 32 NFL teams were represented. The Atlanta Falcons sent 11 coaches to see the outgoing Bulldogs show their speed, athleticism and skills in combine-line drills. But Belichick, perhaps more than any of them, has shown he recognizes the value of former UGA players. RELATED: New England practices “just like” Georgia  “I think Kirby’s program is excellent to prepare guys for the National Football League,” said Belichick, who selected UGA players Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and signed center David Andrews as a free agent in 2015. After Georgia’s pro day, more Bulldogs will be on their way to the league. Smart was practically beaming with pride on Wednesday. “Our guys competed well,” Smart said, dozens of media and several cameras surrounding him. “We want them to have this opportunity, that’s what they dream of, but we want them to get their education as well.” There were 21 players running drills on Wednesday, from projected first-round NFL draft pick Deandre Baker to former Bulldog Tramel Terry, who signed with UGA in 2013 before finishing his career with Jacksonville State. Smart, who spent the 2006 season with the Miami Dolphins coaching the safeties, has as good of a perspective as anyone on what the NFL combine drills mean. Not only has the Georgia coach prepared several players for NFL careers, but he went through the process himself. Smart was an All-SEC safety at Georgia who signed a free-agent deal with the Indianapolis Colts before getting cut before the start of the regular season. “We still say your tape will speak volumes to who you are, and a lot of our kids have some good tape,” Smart said. “But they want to do well on this day, they trained hard for this day, there’s a lot of pressure on them for this day, it’s important to them.” As for Belichick, Smart indicated their conversation covered several areas. “He knows you know your own players, he’s always about guys you played against that you thought a lot of, guys coming in the future,” Smart said, “or things they are doing in their organization that are making them better that maybe we can mirror.” Indeed, there are already similarities. “Sony (Michel) told me that the New England Patriots practice is just like the University of Georgia practice, but maybe not as intense, because we’re in college,” departing UGA receiver Riley Ridley said at the NFL combine. “But he said they have the same attack.” Georgia coach Kirby Smart   The post WATCH Georgia football coach Kirby Smart: ‘Our guys competed well’ at pro day appeared first on DawgNation.