It took defensive end Mario Addison years to find a legitimate home in the NFL.
Undrafted out of Troy in 2011, where he totaled 11.5 sacks in two collegiate seasons, the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder has settled in nicely as a mismatch on the outside for Carolina. After spending time with four different teams in his first two years in the league, Addison landed with the Panthers late in 2012.
He appeared in four games, making one start and his first career sack.
Since then, he’s made 50 appearances and two starts along with 15 sacks — including 12.5 over the last two seasons. He turns 29 in two days and likely isn’t going to be counted on for more than 6-8 sacks, but with Charles Johnson slowing down and the Panthers not having many other great rotational options behind Kony Ealy, Addison should thrive again.
In 2015, he had 10 quarterback hits, 27 hurries and six sacks. His pass rush productivity (11.8) ranked fifth among 4-3 defensive ends, per Pro Football Focus.
Even in a rotational role under defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, Addison is happy to be with Carolina and knows he can thrive.
“Everybody wants to start at some time in their career, but I got to the point where I’ve accepted it,” Addison told the Black and Blue Review. “I’ve been killing it when I do come in. I’m a playmaker. I don’t have to start to make plays.
“When I do get in there, I can do better than when people start. So it really doesn’t matter when I get in there, it’s what I do when I get in.”
Defensive line coach Eric Washington said that Addison is a guy who can come in on third down and win as a 1-on-1 pass rusher against a starting left tackle (via Black and Blue Review).
Addison underwent offseason shoulder surgery after being victim to a slightly separated shoulder midway through the 2015 season. On top of his role as a pass rusher, he’s made plays against the run, totaling 82 tackles in his career.
Despite the fact that Addison is still an unknown player by most NFL fans, he is rock solid. As an undersized defensive end, he is what he is at this point in his career: a steady presence for the Panthers.
The Panthers defense knows how to work together and that’s why it is always in the top 10 in most rankings by year’s end. Addison is one of those guys who is a quiet worker and has the determination to make plays off the edge.
There aren’t many high-end rotational 4-3 ends left in the league. Mark Anderson was one for a couple years in Chicago when Ron Rivera was a defensive coordinator. Addison came around after that but the Bears never kept him around.
The Panthers know what they have in Addison and he knows what they need him to do. Now it’s all about execution and he’s in for another big year in his rotational edge spot in Carolina.