Preseason Profile: Philip Wheeler, LB

Philip Wheeler #52

College: Georgia Tech
Height: 6’1⅞”
Weight: 248 lbs
Arm Length: N/A”
Hand Size: N/A”


40 Yard Dash: 4.76
3 Cone Drill: 7.11
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.29
Bench Press: 24 reps
Vertical Jump: 31″
Broad Jump: 118″


“A tenacious, strong and remarkably athletic inside linebacker… considered by many as one of the nation’s best-blitzing linebackers”. Those were words used to describe Philip Wheeler coming out of college. He averaged a half sack per game his senior year at Georgia Tech and also led the team in tackles. His athleticism allows him to play coverage as well and he led Georgia Tech in interceptions in 2007 with four, not bad for an inside linebacker.

His athleticism was a big part of why he was drafted by the Colts in the third round of the 2008 draft. The Colts have been a very finesse defense for the better part of a decade and really liked how a guy like Wheeler fit into their defensive system. The Colts run a strict cover two defense where Wheeler’s athleticism was needed in coverage a lot. The problem was, it took away one of his biggest strengths. Wheeler came from an attack style defense at Georgia Tech where he spent a lot of his time blitzing and getting after the quarterback, something he excelled at. So why the Colts were making good use of Wheelers athleticism in their cover two, they were also under utilizing his ability to blitz and attack at the line of scrimmage.

The Raiders have different plans for Wheeler, which were made clear the day they signed him. The Raiders are installing a system that includes many different packages and looks. From man coverage to zone coverage, from 4-3 to 3-4 fronts and from blitz packages to cover two defense, the Raiders plan to do it all. In order to make that happen, guys with versatility such as Philip Wheeler are important. You have to have guys with the ability to do more than one thing on the field. “They ask me to do a lot of things, cover the tight end sometimes, blitz sometimes, drop back in coverage,” Wheeler said when asked of his responsibilities in the Raiders defense. “It’s fun because the offense is never going to know what we’re doing.”

Even though Wheeler will be competing for the starting strong side linebacker role, don’t expect him to fill the same role vacated by Kamerion Wimbley. They are two completely different players playing in two completely different schemes. Regardless of who starts at strong side linebacker, I expect a good rotation of players based on situation and packages. Jason Tarver and Dennis Allen are smart men, and I expect match ups to always be part of the equation with them.

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  • razor

    I appreciate the article…not much out there regarding wheeler. Who’s next?!