The Combine's Scariest Test

The combine is here and along with height, weight, strength and speed, the players will have their brains measured as well. The Wonderlic test is a fifty question, twelve minute test designed to measure a person's ability to learn and solve problems. It's a type of personality test used across many industries, but gained most of its notoriety via the NFL. The obvious value to an NFL team is to ascertain a prospect's ability to learn the playbook and terminology quickly, and then adjust to on field situations.

The Wonderlic Test uses open response and multiple choice questions with increasing difficulty. The average score for an NFL player (regardless of position) is 19. The average score of John Q. Citizen is 21. Scoring below 10 on the Wonderlic is an indication of a literacy problem.

In Paul Zimmerman's book titled, "The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football" he listed the average Wonderlic scores by position. In the table below are listed those test scores compared with average scores from common occupations.

 

Wonderlic Scores
Football Position Test Score Workplace
Offensive Tackle

26

Journalist
Center

25

Quarterback

24

Salesman
Guard

23

Tight End

22

Bank Teller
Safety

19

Linebacker

19

Cornerback

18

Wide Receiver

17

Security Guard
Fullback

17

Running Back

16

 

The only confirmed perfect score of 50 was put in by wide receiver Pat McInally, drafted by the Bengals and used primarily as a punter. McInally, a Harvard grad, felt his perfect score was a hindrance in the draft because he stated, "Coaches hate extremes at either end."

McInally felt his high test score was interpreted by some coaches as him being someone who would challenge authority. The 6'6", 210 pound receiver was drafted in the 5th round of the 1975 draft.

The lowest score ever recorded was turned in by Darren Davis, a running back from Iowa with a 4. The most controversial score was recorded by Vince Young, University of Texas graduate with a 6. This low score was leaked to the media, and Young's stock dropped in the draft. I remember a video clip of Warren Sapp laughing with a teammate and Sapp's quote was, "Man, you get 6 points just for knowing your own name!" There was controversy about how the results were leaked, and ultimately questions on how a college graduate managed to score so poorly. There were claims that the test Young took was ‘inaccurate' and his agent tried to take some of the heat by claiming he never informed Young that he would have to take the test during the combine. Because of the controversy Young was allowed to retake the test and improved his score to 16 (Dan Marino's score). Most believed the ‘make-up test' was a league attempt to overcome the damage done by the leak of the initial low score.

I always enjoy hearing the interviews with the prospects and I listen to how they conduct themselves and articulate their thoughts. I understand that being intellectually brilliant is not the only nor even the main criteria for football success. If it were, most of us here on Blogging The Boys would be in Canton by now. There are a couple of high test scoring, first round draft pick QBs riding the pine right now. The gold standard for success in the NFL is speed. If you scored a 2 on your Wonderlic, but ran a legitimate 4.1 forty yard dash, I'm positive that some NFL team would be willing to pay you a lot of money.

But you have to admit, it would be nice to have the whole package. A 250-pound inside linebacker with 4.3 speed who can cover and stop the run and also reads Quantum Physics Digest would be a thing of beauty.

You can experience and practice some of the Wonderlic questions at the company website. Or try a timed sample test here.

Your 40 times are up to you!

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