It didn't take Dalvin Tomlinson long to become Georgia's first high school heavyweight to win three state wrestling titles.

Google the video. And don't blink.

"That match, it was pretty quick," Tomlinson said Thursday. "Nine seconds."

Pinned the guy to finish 49-0 that year for Henry County High in McDonough, Ga.

Fast forward nine years. Tomlinson is 27. He's no longer a wrestler. At least not in the literal sense. But that special set of skills when paired with a powerful 6-3, 318-pound body will get you a two-year, $22 million deal to help resuscitate the Vikings' 27th-ranked run defense and their paltry pass rush.

"Wrestling is a tremendous part of playing defensive line because of the leverage you learn in wrestling," said Tomlinson, who left the Giants to sign with the Vikings in free agency. "You learn to use somebody's body against their will. That's a big part of wrestling. And it goes hand in hand in playing defensive line."

The Vikings will need time to nail down Tomlinson's exact role for the 2021 season. He has played nose tackle in a 3-4 defense the last three years, but said he's comfortable at nose or three-technique in a 4-3 because that's what he did as a rookie.

Most likely, Tomlinson will start at three-technique alongside last year's prized free agent, nose tackle Michael Pierce, who opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19.

"As long as I can get my hand in the dirt and play some football, I'm happy," Tomlinson said.

Pro Football Focus considers Tomlinson one of the league's best run stuffers. Overall, it ranked him 28th among interior defenders with a 75.5 grade. Shamar Stephen, the guy Tomlinson replaces, had a 61.7 grade last year.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, who also signed perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson, called Tomlinson "our big prize" in free agency.

"He was the No. 1 target we had," said Spielman, who did not take questions from reporters at Thursday's videoconference with Tomlinson. "He plays with great leverage, has great strength at the point, excellent with his hands, does a great job getting off blocks and finding the ball and making plays all over the field in the run game."

He added that, though Tomlinson only has 3 ½ sacks in each of the past two seasons, he will impact the passing game too.

"The thing he doesn't get enough credit for is how he affects the quarterback even though he may not have the gaudy sack numbers," Spielman said. "By how he collapses the centers, how he collapses the guards to get the quarterback off the spot in the pocket."

Tomlinson grew up in a big family in Georgia. He lived on Tomlinson Street, named after his grandfather, who sold the land that was used to build the nearby high school that Tomlinson attended.

Tomlinson was 5 when his father, Willie, died of cancer. Then, the summer before his senior year, Tomlinson's mother, Melinda, died of heart disease and kidney failure linked to diabetes.

"She was my best friend," Tomlinson told reporters when he was in college at Alabama, where he won two national championships before the Giants drafted him in the second round.

Melinda stressed academics and giving back to the community. Dalvin paid attention.

His grades were so good that Harvard recruited him. As for the giving back part, Dalvin was the Giants' 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee.

Two of the organizations he works with off the field are the American Diabetes Association, in honor of his mother; and the American Cancer Society, in honor of his father. He also works with Kate's Club in Atlanta and Good Grief in New Jersey, groups that provide support for young kids after the death of a parent or sibling.

"It's the way my mom raised me," Tomlinson said. "You never know how many blessings you can give by just smiling at someone."

Tomlinson excelled in honors classes in high school. He was captain of the football team. He played three musical instruments. He was a goalie and striker in soccer.

And, according to, there was a day when Henry County football coach Mike Rozier caught the young man doodling quite well with a pencil.

"He's an unbelievable artist," Rozier said. "He could probably sell some of that stuff."

Tomlinson tore the ACL in his left knee while playing soccer his senior year. He red-shirted at Alabama. A year later, he tore the ACL in the other knee in practice the week after making his college debut on the field.

Since then, however, Tomlinson hasn't missed a game in three years at Alabama and four more in the NFL.

He said he had "quite a few teams" interested in him in free agency. ranked him 22nd on its list of available free agents.

"I liked Minnesota, I liked the Vikings," he said "I just felt like it was the perfect fit for me. … All I can say is I'm really excited. I don't know how to put it into words right now."