How Important is the Wonderlic?


The Wonderlic test is an aptitude test that all the NFL prospects take at the combine.  It is out of 50 points and has both  inflated and deflated draft stock. There are 50 questions and the players have 12 minutes to answer all of them. A score of 10 is considered “literate.”

Here’s a sample question:

A train travels 20 feet every 1/5 of a second.  How many feet can it travel in three seconds?

I try not to look too much into it, but sometimes a really terrible score really can’t be completely ignored.  I wanted to dive into some research and find players and their scores.  I’m hoping to see if we could get a correlation between performance and score.  I really encourage any current or former NFL player that reads this to post up their scores if they’d like to help me out.

After looking at this, my theory that the test really doesn’t show much held up.  There’s nothing that this test really proves.  If they could come up with a Football Aptitude Test (which I’m going to coin “FAT”) that measures football intelligence, that may show us something.  They can make a test for every position group and give the players some information before hand.  As players prep for the combine, they should be given a light playbook, a gameplan that would describe the next opponent’s weaknesses and strengths, and brief scheme description to go over for that specific year’s test (they train for months to perform well on every drill, why not give them something to read in addition?).  The test for QBs should have questions such as “Which receiver do you throw to if the defense is in a cover two shell and the playcall is 743 Trips Bunch Zoom (or something else that the player had a chance to look at before hand)?”.  This would test a players ability to digest a playbook, make adjustments on the fly, and his general knowledge of the game.  I believe that this could be an effective tool in the future for talent evaluators.

Back on topic, I grouped the scores into some categories to organize them a bit.  As you can see, not very conclusive.

Super Bowl Champions

Aaron Rodgers (35)

Eli Manning (39)

Ben Roethlisberger (25)

Drew Brees (28)

Tom Brady (33)

Peyton Manning (28)

Steve Young (33)

John Elway (29)

Terry Bradshaw (15)

Clay Matthews (27)

Conference Champions

Donovan McNabb (14)

Drew Bledsoe (36)

Matt Hasselbeck (29)

Kerry Collins (30)

Jim Kelly (15)

Dan Marino (15)

Non-SB winning 1st overall picks

Alex Smith (40)

David Carr (24)

Mike Vick (20)

Matthew Stafford (38)

Carson Palmer (26)

Tim Couch (22)

Jeff George (10)

Vinny Testaverde (17)

1st round QBs

Matt Leinart (35)

Jay Cutler (26)

Vince Young (“15”)

Jason Campbell (23)

J.P. Losman (31)

Phillip Rivers (30)

Chad Pennington (25)

Akili Smith (26)

Ryan Leaf (27)

Bills Notables

C.J. Spiller (10)

Ryan Fitzpatrick (48)

Rob Johnson (26)

Some 2010 NFL Draft QBs

Sam Bradford (36)

Colt McCoy (25)

Jimmy Clausen (23)

Tim Tebow (22)

Generic Catch-All Category

Kellen Clemens (35)

Charlie Whitehurst (33)

Tarvaris Jackson (19)

Matt Schaub (31)

David Garrard (14)

Tony Romo (37)