Every year when the NFL Combine comes around and the draft approaches, we hear the term “Wonderlic Test” tossed around. I am willing to bet that the majority of casual sports fans don’t even know what they are talking about in reference to this test. Officially known as the “Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test,” it is essentially an intelligence test which serves the purpose of testing potential employees in the categories of problem-solving and learning. There are 50 questions to be completed in 12 minutes, with each correct answer being given a point. Average intelligence is suggested to be a 20, while recording 10 points is the level for being literate. I find it hard to make such a strong relation between this problem-solving test and the skills of these players on the gridiron. With this said, I don’t believe any team should even base their selection on what a certain player scored on this test. However, it is amusing when you see some players score below what is considered to be the line separating illiteracy from literacy. Let’s take a look at what scores some current NFL players got on it before getting drafted:
Pat McInally (Cincinnati 1976-1985) – McInally scored the lone perfect 50 on the test when given out to NFL players. It comes as no surprise he came out of Harvard, but he did end up getting picked in the fifth round as a punter.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Houston Texans) – Fitzpatrick, another Harvard product, recorded a 48, which is the highest ever at the combine for a quarterback. He has bounced around a bit through his career, but has still managed to find his way onto the field many times.
Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers) – The majority of football fans are familiar with Frank Gore. He scored a 6 when coming out of Miami. He is obviously a perfect example of this test meaning absolutely nothing. Despite being a third round pick, Gore has put up nearly 10,000 rushing yards in his career and made 5 Pro Bowl’s.
Morris Claiborne (Dallas Cowboys) – The cornerback from LSU scored a 4 on the test, which most likely worried some teams pre-draft. Claiborne did say he intentionally “blew the test off.” However, it didn’t stop Jerry Jones from taking the talented cornerback with the 6th overall pick.
This Year’s Implications
Until the NFL accepts the reasoning that this test has little implications with what a player can actually do on the football field, then we will continue to get these meaningless headlines year-in and year-out. The one position I do see it having some value at is quarterback. These are the guys making the big decisions during the game and getting paid the big bucks to do so. So while we have some leaked results from this year’s Combine, let’s take a look at them. The top three quarterback’s scores were:
Johnny Manziel: 32
Blake Bortles: 28
Teddy Bridgewater: 20
It is interesting to see Manziel getting the top score amongst these quarterbacks and putting up a very respectable 32. With the Wonderlic test backing it up, I do believe Johnny Football will be the top quarterback coming out of this draft. However, none of these quarterbacks in the whole draft class are really worthy of going in the top 10. Johnny Football does have the ability to be “Box Office,” but it may require a good fit in order for him to be successful early on.
Peyton Manning scored a 28 on this test and Ryan Fitzpatrick scored a 48. I am not saying anything bad about Fitzpatrick, in fact I have been a fan of his since his days in St. Louis, but this is further proof that the Wonderlic Test does have little value. It may provide some insight into the success of a quarterback, but you can’t say if a guy scores a certain score on it, then he will have a specific passer rating or throw so many touchdowns. There is just no direct relationship. Add this to the fact that one of the best running backs currently in the game, Frank Gore, scored a 6 (which is considered being illiterate) and you have a test given every year meaning very little.