Wonderlic Test and its History Wonderlic test is one of the most widely used intelligence…
The rigorous workout of training for the National Football League (NFL) pre-draft does not stop with the physical. NFL hopefuls are put through their paces on the football field, along with hard workouts in the gym and a fast 40-yard dash. But it does not end there. The NFL also wants to know just how intelligent potential players are based on the NFL Wonderlic test.
Though player scores are a carefully guarded secret, they inevitably get leaked to the public. Many fans put great stock in the NFL Wonderlic test scores, equating player intelligence, or lack of, with performance on the field.
After long physical workouts, potential draftees sit down to a 50 question supervised test with only 12 minutes to finish. Here their minds get a workout to see if they are all brawn or not. Simple mathematics and reading questions help them flex their minds to measure their ability to recognize patterns, think logically, solve problems, and analyze situations.
Eldon Wonderlic devised the test in 1937 to help organizations screen job applicants. Its questions do not require you to know facts, but rather it has to focus on patterns to measure your cognitive ability. The point is to measure your problem solving and decision-making skills, as well spatial ability, and how you apply rules to fit your solutions. It is not about testing what you know. The NFL Wonderlic test tells the organization how you handle what you already know.
The NFL has put potential players through intelligence testing since the 1970s and distributes results to individual teams for assessment before the draft. Football skills and physical fitness and ability are still the primary prerequisites for football players; but it is important that players understand the complexities of the game and have the ability to work as part of a team.
Football teams expect different NFL Wonderlic test results from players in different positions on the field. Lower scores are acceptable for receivers and running backs, but quarterbacks and offensive linesmen need higher scores.
However, there are always those that break an accepted rule. Vince Young (Tennessee Titans) and Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins) are two quarterbacks who proved the theory wrong. Both are highly successful quarterbacks who scored very low on the Wonderlic Test.
While you may think this negates the use of the test, it highlights its value to the NFL when put into perspective. The Wonderlic test does not measure actual intelligence but a player’s analytical skills.
While the results of the NFL Wonderlic test are supposed to be kept private, so many scores find their way into the public arena when the media gets hold of them. Just for fun, let’s take a look at the scores of some NFL players, remember that 20 is average:
• Alex Smith – 40
• Chuck Hartlieb – 37
• Sam Bradford – 36
• Drew Bledsoe – 36
• Mike Elkins – 33
• Brian Brohm – 32
• David Klinger – 30
• Tony Romo – 30
• Colt McCoy – 25
• Jimmy Clausen – 23
• Chris Simms – 22
• Tim Tebow – 22
• Vinny Testaverte – 17
• Terry Bradshaw – 15
• Dan Marino – 14
• Vince Evans – 8
From this list, you can see the old myth being ‘all brawn and no brains’ is far from the truth. Some of the most famous footballers have above average NFL test scores. Vinny Testaverte, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, and Vince Evans are brilliant players with low pre-draft test scores.And remember, normally, low NFL Wonderlic test scores mean a fail.
The NFL also uses the test scores of a team to predict the odds of success for that team in the season. Compare the NFL Wonderlic test scores for the following successful teams:
• St Louis Rams – 24.6
• Oakland Raiders – 23.3
• Tennessee Titans – 23.2
• Dallas Cowboys – 22.8
• Chicago Bears – 22.6
• Carolina Panthers – 22.1
• San Francisco Forty-niners – 21.7
• Denver Broncos – 20.1
• Green Bay Packers – 19.1
• New York Giants – 19.7
From this list you can see there are always exceptions to rules. These are all successful teams and, while the majority have above average scores, two have a test score below the average of 20. It just shows it is possible to be successful with a below average NFL test score.