The NFL All-IQ Team

Dan TylickiAnalyst IJuly 30, 2013

The NFL All-IQ Team

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    The NFL is full of players of all backgrounds and walks of life. You have those who went to college just to play football, leaving college early and having their focus solely on their career.

    Conversely, you have those who not only excel on the field, but are practically geniuses. They attended the top schools in the country, graduated early and earned degrees in advanced subjects, all while still playing the game they love.

    This article is on those guys. Who makes up the NFL All-IQ Team?

Quarterback

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    Quarterback was a harder position to decide than it looks. You have Greg McElroy, the Jets backup who was an Academic All-American and scored a 43 on the Wonderlic cognitive ability test, and you have Alex Smith, who scored a 40 and graduated from Utah in two years.

    However, neither quite matches up to Ryan Fitzpatrick. He scored a 48 on the Wonderlic, finished the exam in nine minutes and had a near-perfect 1,580 SAT score (back when the SAT was out of 1,600).

    Oh, and he went to some school named Harvard, which is the go-to note to bring up when discussing him, despite the fact that he has been in the league nearly a decade.

Running Backs

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    The first player that comes to mind for a smart running back is Danny Woodhead. The Division II star attended Chadron State, where he majored in math education. He was not only an Academic All-American, but the All-America member of the year in the College Division.

    The Bengals, meanwhile, may have found a Danny Woodhead of their own in this year's draft. Rex Burkhead was an Academic All-American twice and graduated from Nebraska a semester early in December 2012.

Wide Receivers

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    Kealoha Pilares was a mainstay on the Academic All-WAC squad, but was also an Academic All-American while at Hawaii. While there, he was a double major in kinesiology and recreation science and had a 3.61 GPA.

    Ryan Whalen, a Stanford graduate, was an Academic All-American during his time there. While his GPA was only around 3.5, it's still great for a Stanford player.

Tight Ends

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    The tight end position has two clear favorites for the All-IQ team. Benjamin Watson scored a 48 on the Wonderlic, one of the highest scores in the test's history, and majored in finance while attending Duke and Georgia.

    Jacob Tamme, meanwhile, was a first-team Academic All-American during his time at Kentucky, graduating with a 3.82 GPA and a master's in business administration, earning that before he even debuted in the NFL.

Offensive Tackles

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    Nate Potter has quietly slipped into a starting role after being a seventh-round pick for the Cardinals, but he's also one of the smartest players. He was an Academic All-American at Boise State and, after getting a degree in business, is pursuing a master's degree.

    Anthony Castonzo is a graduate of Boston College, and while there he was a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, given to the top student-athlete. A biochemistry major, he was also given an academic scholarship while attending college.

Interior Offensive Linemen

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    The guard and center positions are stacked with great, smart players, to the point where it was difficult to limit it to just three. The retirement of All-IQ mainstay Matt Birk just makes the selection even tougher.

    Rookie Barrett Jones was a three-time first-team Academic All-American, and a second-team Academic All-American his freshman year. He graduated from Alabama in three years with a perfect GPA and went on to obtain a master's degree in accounting.

    Giants guard Kevin Boothe has been a versatile guard who was a four-year starter for Cornell. He was a member of the All-Ivy League team and is part of the prestigious Quill and Dagger society at Cornell.

    Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski was a three-time Academic All-American at Penn State, where he had a 3.91 GPA. He was a secondary education major, and the Raiders likely drafted him just as much for his smarts as they did for his playing ability.

Defensive Line

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    Ryan Fitzpatrick's Harvard roots are well-known, but defensive lineman Desmond Bryant played there as well. At Harvard, Bryant was an economics major.

    Kyle Vanden Bosch is not currently on an active roster, but since he has not officially retired I'm grandfathering him into the list. He had a 3.82 GPA, graduated from Nebraska a semester early and was a three-time Academic All-Big 12, as well as part of Nebraska's elite Society of Innocents, so it would be impossible not to put him on this list.

    J.J. Watt may be known as one of the best defensive players in the game today, but he has a good head on his shoulders as well. The Wisconsin defensive end was an Academic All-Big Ten selection and scored a 31 on the Wonderlic; in 2011, that was the best score of any defensive lineman.

Linebackers

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    Starting off the linebackers is perhaps the brightest man out of the 2011 draft class, Sam Acho. Acho was a graduate of Texas who finished school a semester early and had a 3.62 GPA. He also speaks three languages; he's fluent in English, Spanish, and Igbo.

    London Fletcher, unlike Acho, has been in the game forever, but before his 15-year career, he was a student at John Carroll University, a Division III school. Those schools do not give out scholarships, so he played football and made his way through school simply through hard work and dedication.

    Paul Posluszny was a Penn State graduate who was not only an Academic All-American twice, but was the Academic All-American of the Year in 2006. He obtained a bachelor's degree in finance and graduated a semester early.

    Zak DeOssie has been a two-time Pro Bowler for the Giants, but got his start at Brown. While there, he was on the All-Ivy League squad three straight times. His Wonderlic score almost took him off the list, but it's hard to discount an Ivy Leaguer.

Cornerbacks

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    Nnamdi Asomugha could be the most business-savvy player in the NFL, to go along with his playing ability and smarts. He graduated from Cal-Berkeley with a degree in finance, and his parents both have doctoral degrees as well.

    Richard Sherman, meanwhile, attended Stanford, and after graduating, returned to school his fifth year to work on a master's degree. Even in high school, he managed a GPA of 4.2, which is impressive given that the limit in most districts is 4.0.

Safeties

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    I took some liberties placing Ed Reed on the list, as he doesn't have the Academic All-American titles others do. However, he has such an ability to read the playing field and game film to understand others that it's a skill that has to come from some degree of natural smarts.

    With Myron Rolle no longer in the league, the second spot is much more difficult to fill. Cody Davis was an Academic All-American this past season and looks to make the Rams roster as an undrafted free agent. He graduated with a 3.7 GPA and a degree in management information systems.

Special Teams

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    The kicker selection was difficult, as the top candidate may not make the roster after training camp. For now, John Potter is on the Redskins competing for a job and has the smarts to be fine should be lose out.

    Potter attended Western Michigan, where he graduated with a 3.98 GPA. He was an Academic All-American his senior year, and that, combined with his kicking ability, led to him being drafted by the Bills last season.

    The punter selection was quite easy. Drew Butler was an Academic All-American multiple times at Georgia and obtained a degree in telecommunication arts and kinesiology. The current Steelers punter also earned a Scholar-Athlete Award from the National Football Foundation.