'A perfect fit': Vikings add Dalvin Tomlinson to defensive line

Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson #94 of the New York Giants tackles quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals for a sack in the fourth quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on December 13, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. ((Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images))

Minnesota Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said Thursday Dalvin Tomlinson was among their top targets in NFL free agency. Tomlinson said he feels like the Vikings are a perfect fit.

After four seasons with the New York Giants, Tomlinson put pen to paper at TCO Performance Center to make coming to Minnesota official. The Vikings now have another run-stuffing defensive tackle after finishing third-last in run defense in 2020.

"One of the guys that we targeted, and our big prize was getting Dalvin Tomlinson here. We’re trying to get the best possible players that we can this time of year, and he was the No. 1 target that we had," Spielman said.

A second round pick in 2017, Tomlinson has made 64 straight starts on the defensive line after suffering knee injuries in both high school and college. The last two seasons combined, he has seven sacks, 98 tackles and 19 quarterback hits.

He’ll join Michael Pierce and Danielle Hunter on the defensive line, the goal being to shut down the run game and put pressure on quarterbacks. Last year, the Vikings allowed more than 134 rushing yards per game.

"Minnesota felt like it was a good fit for me with the coaching staff and the players. I like Minnesota, I like the Vikings. I felt like it was just a perfect fit for me," Tomlinson said. "I’m super excited to play next to those guys. There’s going to be some good energy up front."

A former high school state champion in wrestling, Tomlinson talked Thursday about how he incorporates that into his play at defensive tackle. Tomlinson won a state championship as a senior with a pin in just nine seconds.

"Wrestling is a tremendous part of playing defensive line because the leverage you learn in wrestling, and also just learn how to use someone’s body against their will is a big part of wrestling. It comes hand-in-hand with playing defensive line," Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson is also now teammates with the only other Dalvin in the NFL, Dalvin Cook. The two met as opponents in Week 5 of the 2019 season, a 28-10 win for the Vikings. In that game, Cook had 21 carries for 132 yards and six catches for 86 yards. That’s 218 total yards from scrimmage.

There’s going to be some kinks in communication when the team comes together, but Tomlinson is happy to have Cook as a teammate.

"I think there’s going to be a lot of times somebody will say Dalvin and we’re both going to look," Tomlinson joked. "He’s one of those freak of nature running backs. I’m super excited not having to play him in a game because I know how much talent he has, and how hard it is to get to tackling him."

Playing next to Pierce, that’s more than 650 pounds on the Minnesota defensive line. Tomlinson will be tasked with stopping the run, and help getting opposing quarterbacks off schedule.

The Vikings will be happy if the move improves their run defense, and getting pressure on the quarterback after they had just 23 sacks last season. Their 1.7 per game average was 28th in the NFL.

He doesn’t yet know his exact role on the defensive line, but expects to play some three-technique. He’s ready for whatever is thrown at him.

"I’m pretty comfortable in any scheme. As long as I get to put my hand in the dirt and play some football, I’m happy," Tomlinson said.