Safety Catches Vikings' Attention on Pro Day

With six safeties on the roster and five potential starters among them, safety wouldn't seem to be a priority position for the Vikings in the draft. Yet, one safety noted that the team took a "strong interest" in him following his pro day, and many other teams were impressed as well.

During a very engaging interview with Wake Forest safety Josh Gattis, he told that he had two pre-draft visits and two personal workouts since his Pro Day.

Gattis, who was called "the most mentally sharp kid I've ever coached" by Wake Forest defensive coordinator Dean Hood, worked out for New England right after his Pro Day and then visited the Patriots two days later.

The New York Giants flew their secondary coach to Wake Forest to put Gattis through the paces, and then he did a local visit with Carolina. But he's drawing interest from many other teams as well.

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound safety did a full workout at his Pro Day that reportedly included a 4.47-second running of the 40-yard dash even though he posted very good numbers at the Combine. When asked why he went through the drills again, he said he felt he owed it to the people who had made the trip since they had one of the best turnouts ever at Wake Forest by NFL coaches and scouts.

"I know they wanted to see me," he said. "And if you're going to come here and show your interest in me, I'm going to show you everything you want to see. ...When I told them I was going to work out, because they originally had me on the list for not working out, I got a lot of applause at the time.

(Getty Images/Doug Benc)
"Coaches and scouts would come up and say 'great decision, good job.' And it was something I just enjoyed doing."

During his freshman year at Wake Forest, Gattis was the team's coverage leader and forced two fumbles. With 45 special teams tackles during his college career, he's looking forward to contributing right away at the pro level in that area as well.

But don't think that his special teams work and intelligence is his only draw for NFL teams. It's his 12 interceptions, including five each year over the past two seasons, and his 259 tackles, six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries that point him out as a playmaker. And he was indisputably the leader of the Deacons defense, starting the past three seasons.

Gattis said the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos have been calling him frequently. And on his Pro Day he had breakfast with the Jacksonville Jaguars. As the day progressed, he drew strong interest from the Vikings, Bears and Panthers during his actual workout. 

At the Combine in Indianapolis, the focused, yet highly personable safety met with every team except the Colts, 49ers and Raiders. But he specifically mentioned how well he felt his 15-minute formal interviews with the Falcons, Panthers, Broncos, Jets, Bears and Seahawks went. And he noted that, "I really enjoyed going to Seattle's interview because I got a chance to sit down with (secondary) Coach (Jim) Mora and we talked a lot of football."

Another connection that can't be overlooked that could impact where Gattis lands on draft day is that he was recruited to Wake Forest by Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell, who has stayed in touch with Gattis throughout his collegiate career. They even go to the same church and Gattis says they meet and talk when Caldwell is back home during the offseason. During Gattis' senior year, Caldwell even provided him with lots of tips on making the transition to the pros.

A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the network and syndicated through's NFL team pages.

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