NFL Draft

Wonderlic Test: Breaking Down Sample of Pre-NFL Draft Examination

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel passes the ball during a drill at pro day for NFL football representatives in College Station, Texas, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)
Patric Schneider
Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2014

Johnny Manziel is more intelligent than Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater

OK, that might not entirely be true. There's no perfect way to measure one's intelligence, as our yearly fretting about and messing with SATs and other standardized scores prove. But in the deeply flawed NFL world, a 12-minute sample test consisting of 50 questions could lead fans or even teams to draw conclusions like the statement in the lede.

I speak of course of the Wonderlic test. The exam, given to players at the NFL combine, is perhaps the most controversial facet of the yearly Underwear Olympics in Indianapolis. The results usually stay under wraps for a while, under the false guise of anonymity. But slowly and surely, they begin springing leaks—usually around the time one guy or another needs a boost in his draft stock.

Such was the case Friday, with NFL Network's Albert Breer dishing out the Wonderlic scores of Manziel (32), Bortles (28) and Bridgewater (20):

The trio of quarterbacks is expected to be the first taken in May's draft, though it shouldn't be surprising their scores were among the first leaked. Mostly because not one person knows what their ultimate order will be on draft night. Bortles probably has the most momentum to be the No. 1 overall pick at this juncture, but following a stellar pro day and solid Wonderlic score, Manziel can't be too far behind on most draft boards.

Bridgewater, the guy I evaluated as the best quarterback in this draft, might be in a bit of a free-fall. His pro day was less than spectacular, he's slight compared to Bortles (though Manziel is as well) and a mediocre Wonderlic isn't going to help matters. Bleacher Report NFL analyst Aaron Nagler, however, makes a solid point about all these bad Bridgewater rumors:

As for the Wonderlic itself, the test's predictive value is arguable, to say the least. Sports Illustrated's John P. Lopez created a 26-27-60 rule for evaluating quarterbacks, in which a signal-caller had to score a 26 on his Wonderlic, start 27 collegiate games and complete 60 percent of his passes.

There are obviously major exceptions on either side of that coin. Lopez's article cites Daunte Culpepper, Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick among the most notable names to fail in the Wonderlic portion of the rule and still succeed. Likewise a 42 Wonderlic for Blaine Gabbert and a 35 for Christian Ponder did little to help their abilities to read a blitz on Sunday.

Put it this way: Would you rather start your franchise with Cam Newton (21 Wonderlic) or Ryan Tannehill (34)?

Chuck Burton

Exactly.

The Wonderlic, like many things with evaluating prospects, is nothing but a tool as part of the process. It's frankly a wonder they still take it at all. But tradition is tradition and all of that good stuff.

Of course, there have been some scores so notable you can't help but shake your head like a cartoon character. Morris Claiborne scored a four in 2012. Frank Gore a six in 2005. Vince Young a six, then a 16 in 2006. 

Plus, it gets the people going. For all of the obvious jealousy that digs deep inside our bones about not being able to be paid millions of dollars to play professional football, there's a perverse happiness we feel about knowing (or thinking) that we are "smarter."

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 22:  (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.)  'The Violator', an Oakland Raiders fan, looks on from the stands during a game against the San Diego Chargers on December 22, 2013 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

How could Bridgewater get only 20 of 50 questions right on a test? I mean, that's 40 percent. Certainly you or I could do better, right?

Well, here's your shot. The folks at Football IQ Score have compiled a 50-question test similar to the Wonderlic taken by Bridgewater, Manziel, et al. You have 12 minutes to answer 50 questions—and you even get to cheat and use Google for help if you so choose (h/t The Big Lead).

Full disclosure: My score was 37. Please sign me to a multimillion-dollar NFL contract now, Bob McNair. I'll be awaiting the check.

 

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