What's in a number?
Perhaps millions of dollars. Perhaps nothing.
The press is working itself into a lather over Vince Young's supposedly low IQ. Word leaked Sunday that the Texas sensation scored a woeful six on the 12-minute, 50 question Wonderlic Personnel Exam administered at the draft combine. See sample questions here.
Next came word that his initial test was misgraded and that he scored a 16 on a second test.
While personnel chiefs and media types tie their minds into knots trying to interpret Vince's grades, we should know that Wonderlic scores are not accurate predictors of future performance.
Dan Marino scored a 14 on his Wonderlic. It didn't keep him from the Hall of Fame. Conversely, Rick Mirer scored a 31. His intelligence didn't help his on-field performance.
What's more, low scores have not stopped NFL teams from drafting a player high. Jeff George scored a 10 on his Wonderlic and was still taken first overall because his workouts were so phenomenal.
The Wonderlic is a general standardized test. It is given to applicants for business positions, goverment jobs and schools. Its supporters will likely say that the Wonderlic shows a players' innate capacity to master a thick NFL playbook. Perhaps. But football is about more than memorizing formations. It draws on other types of intelligence beyond the verbal variety. Performance on the field relies on the mesh of logical reads and rapid cognitive decisions, of the type described by author Malcolm Gladwell in this ESPN interview. Young was so effective in his college career because he was able to operate on the border of instinct, without ever slipping into chaos.
All the hullaballoo makes me wonder if the Wonderlic is the defective player here and not Vince Young. Look over this chart of past QB scores and you'll see very little correlation between test scores and quarterbacking skill. Perhaps what the NFL needs is a better test, one that grades snap decisions, rather than deliberate, logical ones.
Ask Drew Henson. The Cowboys backup scored a 42 on his test. As one poster so aptly put it, "all it got him was a working vacation in NFL Europe."
Wonderlic Scores for Cowboys QBs Past and Present:
Drew Bledsoe -- 36 (average)
Tony Romo -- 30
Drew Henson -- 42
Vinnie Testaverde -- 18
Quincy Carter -- 30
Troy Aikman -- 29