EAGAN, Minn. – Only two Dalvins have played in the NFL, and the Vikings now have them both.
General Manager Rick Spielman and the Vikings kicked off the 2021 free agency window Wednesday by adding defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, and the 27-year-old met virtually with Twin Cities media Thursday.
Tomlinson was asked if nicknames will be needed to differentiate between him and running back Dalvin Cook, also a second-round draft pick in 2017.
"I think there's going to be a lot of times someone will say 'Dalvin' and we're both going to look. We haven't talked about it yet, but it's going to work out, I feel like," Tomlinson said with a laugh.
The former Giant is familiar with Cook after playing against him in 2019, and he's happy the two will now share a locker room, not just a name.
"He's one of those freak-of-nature running backs because he's super talented across the board," Tomlinson said. "I'm super excited to not have to play him in a game because I know how much talent he has and how hard it is to get to tackling him, especially as the defensive tackle trying to get to him, because he has such a crazy amount of speed and quickness. He's a great player, a great athlete."
Tomlinson spoke highly also of former Alabama teammate Irv Smith, Jr., — "That's my guy" – as well as the opportunity to be part of a defensive line that includes Michael Pierce and Danielle Hunter.
"When we faced [the Vikings], I knew that they had weapons across the board on defense, and offense as well. Just being here know, I'm super excited to play with some of those weapons they have," he said. "From the outside coming in, all I can really say is that I'm excited. I don't know how to put it into words right now."
View photos of DT Dalvin Tomlinson signing his contract at TCO Performance Center.
And don't forget Vikings Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Andre Patterson, who has a sparkling reputation across the league.
Tomlinson said it "feels like yesterday" that he first met Patterson at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.
"A great, tremendous coach. You can just tell from his track record of the defensive linemen he's had, and I'm super excited to play for him," Tomlinson said. "I can't wait to put these pads on and get out there and let him coach me up a little bit."
Free agency can be a frenzied time, particularly for players who haven't previously gone through the process. But Tomlinson appeared just as unflappable fielding questions at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center as he does on the field.
Despite receiving interest from other teams, Tomlinson was quick to decide on leaving the "Big Apple" for the "Little Apple."
"I'd have to say Minnesota felt like it was a good fit for me with the coaching staff, and the players, also. I like Minnesota, I like the Vikings," he said. "Going through free agency, I was taking it one moment at a time and weighing my options and things. I just felt like Minnesota was a great fit for me."
The feeling is mutual.
Spielman opened Thursday's media session by welcoming Tomlinson to the team and reflecting on the defensive addition.
Spielman described Tomlinson as "a great football player" and "an even better human being off the field" before referencing his scouting of the defensive tackle four years ago at Alabama.
"He plays with great leverage, has great strength at the point [of attack], [is] excellent with his hands, does a great job getting off blocks and firing at the ball, making plays all over the field in the run game," Spielman said. "I think the thing that he doesn't get enough credit for is, when you sit down there and actually break down the tape, how he still affects the quarterback even though he may not have the gaudy sack numbers. But how he collapses the centers, how he collapses the guards, it gets the quarterback off his spot in the pocket, which can create a lot of pressure different ways."
Tomlinson largely thanks his wrestling background for success in the trenches.
View photos of new Vikings DT Dalvin Tomlinson who recently joined the team.
During his time at Henry County High School, he won three George state heavyweight titles. Tomlinson finished his career on the mat with a record of 49-0, which included a state championship victory in just nine seconds.
Qualities used in wrestling transfer "tremendously" to playing defensive line, Tomlinson said.
"The leverage you learn in wrestling, and also just learning how to use someone's body against their will, is a big part of wrestling," he explained. "It comes hand-in-hand with playing defensive line, when you're going against an offensive lineman, trying to make plays, throw them out of their gaps, set edges and things of that nature."
Tomlinson may be a fiend on the field, but the name of his off-field game? Compassion.
Over his four seasons with the Giants, he was extremely committed to making a difference in his time outside of football. Tomlinson, who was the Giants nominee for the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, looks forward to continuing his humanitarian efforts in his new home.
He credited his mother, who passed away as Tomlinson was entering his senior of high school, for raising him with certain priorities.
"It was always to give back when you can," he said. "The organizations I help with, like Good Grief, Kate's Club, American Cancer Society and things like that — those organizations mean a lot to me, and I just want to give back as much as I can, to help people that may be going through the grieving process.
"Just to give back when you can, because you never know how many blessings you can give by just smiling at someone," Tomlinson added.