The Vikings on Wednesday opened 2021 free agency by announcing they have agreed to terms with defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, whose rookie contract with the New York Giants (2017-20) expired.
The agreed to terms with Tomlinson, who is expected to pair alongside 2020 free agent addition (and COVID-19 opt-out) Michael Pierce is expected to bolster a run defense that struggled last season. He was listed by the Giants at 6-foot-3 and 319 pounds.
Here are five things to know about the Georgia native and newest member of the Vikings defensive line:
1. Durability for DT
Tomlinson is the only member of the entire 2017 NFL Draft class to start every game possible in the past four seasons (Denver tackle Garett Bolles missed one game in 2020 or would have joined him). In addition to being impressive among draft classmates, Tomlinson's run of durability has made him the NFL's active leader in starts by a defensive tackle (64 games).
Tomlinson became the first Giants draft pick to start every game of his first four NFL seasons since offensive lineman David Diehl (2003-06).
He totaled 207 tackles (106 solo), 21 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, five passes defended and a forced fumble for the Giants.
View photos of new Vikings DT Dalvin Tomlinson who recently joined the team.
2. Opted for Alabama instead of Harvard
Rather than attending Harvard, where he earned admittance after graduating with a 4.4 GPA, Tomlinson instead accepted a football scholarship from Alabama.
He didn't become a starter for the Crimson Tide until his senior season in 2016. Tomlinson started all 15 games that year, recording 62 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and a forced fumble.
Alabama won the BCS National Championship in 2012, but Tomlinson was a redshirt. Three years later, he helped the Crimson Tide win the College Football Playoff National Championship.
In addition to his on-field prowess, Tomlinson continued his academic success, earning separate degrees in finance and financial planning while in Tuscaloosa.
3. Tragedies shaped community outreach
"Big Blue" teammates designated Tomlinson as one of two defensive captains for the Giants in 2020, the year he also was selected by the team as its nominee for the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
He has repeatedly been at the forefront of community efforts in the New York/New Jersey area and his home state.
Tomlinson overcame personal tragedies — his father, Willie, passed away when Dalvin was 5, and his mother, Melinda, passed away as Dalvin was entering his senior year of high school — during his journey. He has helped Kate's Club (Georgia) and Good Grief (New Jersey) provide programs and support for kids who have lost a parent, sibling or primary caregiver.
4. Additional recognitions and outreach
In 2019, the Giants selected Tomlinson as their nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which was created to recognize "fair play, respect for opponents and integrity in competition."
He has served as a Crucial Catch ambassador for the American Cancer Society, frequently visiting the Hope Lodge in New York City, as well as a Fuel Up to Play 60 ambassador, encouraging students to eat healthy foods and engage in active lifestyles.
For Salute to Service, Tomlinson — an avid gamer — played video games with veterans helped by the Wounded Warrior Project and led tours of the Giants training facility.
Tomlinson also has served as a member of the American Diabetes Association's "Team Tackle Initiative," working with current and retired NFL players who raise support for diabetes funding.
5. 'Renaissance Man'
Tomlinson could give recent returnee Stephen Weatherly a run as the Vikings resident Renaissance Man.
In addition to starring on the gridiron at Henry County High School (Class AAA All-State First Team), Tomlinson won three state wrestling titles, played soccer and competed in track.
He plays trumpet, multiple percussion instruments, piano and guitar, so maybe he and Weatherly, who plays nine different instruments, can get together for some jam sessions.
Tomlinson also has a passion for pencil drawing.