In case you missed it, here is the underrated bracket:
Most Underrated Panthers
1. Chris Gamble
||1. Chris Gamble
|16. Brentson Buckner
|8. Mike Minter||8. Mike Minter
|9. Nick Goings|
|5. Michael Bates||12. Will Witherspoon||???|
|12. Will Witherspoon|
|4. Thomas Davis||4. Thomas Davis|
|13. Travelle Wharton|
|6. Brad Hoover||6. Brad Hoover
|11. Keydrick Vincent|
|3. Al Wallace||14. James Anderson|
|14. James Anderson|
|7. Jeff Mitchell||7. Jeff Mitchell||???|
|10. Brandon LaFell|
|2. Charles Johnson||2. Charles Johnson
|15. Kris Mangum|
This matchup is between Thomas Davis and Will Witherspoon.
How they got here:
Thomas Davis defeated Travelle Wharton 55%-45%
Will Witherspoon defeated Michael Bates 59%-41%
Here's the case for Thomas Davis:
Thomas Davis, when healthy, has been one of the best under-the-radar players on the Panthers defense since he was drafted in 2005. His thrice-injured ACL kept him on the sideline for 2.5 seasons, but he was able to beat the odds and contribute to the 2012 team while looking like his old self, while still not garnering the media attention he deserves.
And, here's the case for Will Witherspoon:
Witherspoon was the latest addition to new coach John Fox's overhaul of the defense, and Witherspoon's versatility at linebacker helped the Panthers total the second-best defense in the league. He replaced Dan Morgan at middle linebacker halfway through the season after Morgan went down with injury. He finished the season with 71 tackles and 1.5 sacks, his first half sack coming at the Cleveland Browns on December 1.
During the 2003 NFL season, Witherspoon was the only Panther linebacker to start every game, where he once again filled in for an injured Morgan at middle linebacker. He intercepted his first pass off New Orleans Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks. During Super Bowl XXXVIII, Witherspoon posted a career-high 16 tackles. He ended the campaign with a total of 99 tackles, one sack and one interception.
The following year, "Spoon" was one of the few defensive players to start every game for the Panthers, who were wracked with injuries. Despite the loss of key personnel like defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, the Panthers led the league in interceptions. Witherspoon set personal bests with three sacks and four interceptions and a then career-high of 103 tackles. In 2005, his final year with the Panthers, Witherspoon played in 15 games and finished the season 81 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions.
After reading this it's clear that Spoon was a bigger piece of the defense than a lot of people realized, so I think it's safe to say that he was underrated, especially when you factor in the team's decision to let him go via free agency instead of retaining him. (Granted, we ended up with Jon Beason and eventually Luke Kuechly, but still.)
Alright, it's time to open up the poll and find out who comes out on top. Who do you think was more underrated -- Thomas Davis or Will Witherspoon? Cast your vote now!
Please remember that voting will close in 24 hours.