Wonderlic Score Not a Sure Barometer of NFL Success

Sooners ExaminerContributor IApril 2, 2010

All quarterbacks who attend the annual NFL Combine are required to take an I.Q. test.  It's called the Wonderlic Personnel Test.

The theory behind the Wonderlic is that the NFL is so much more mentally demanding than the college game that high intelligence can be a predictor of professional success.

However, when economists David Berri and Rob Simmons analyzed the scores--which are routinely leaked to the press--in their 2007 paper , they found that Wonderlic scores are all but useless as predictors of how well college quarterbacks will fare in the pro game.

For example, of the five quarterbacks selected in Round One of the 1999 NFL draft Philadelphia Eagle QB Donovan McNabb, the only one of the five with a genuine chance of being elected into the Hall of Fame, had the lowest Wonderlic score.

Who else had I.Q. scores in the same range as McNabb? Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw, two of the better quarterbacks in NFL lore.

To compare, the scores of four top college quarterbacks at this year's February NFL Combine have been siphoned off to the media. Sam Bradford of Oklahoma scored a 36. Colt McCoy of Texas scored a 25. Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame gauged a 23. Tim Tebow of Florida came in at 22.

The Wonderlic is a 12-minute, 50-question exam. In recent years, quarterback scores have ranged from high scoring Ryan Fitzgerald of Harvard at 49 and Matthew Stafford of Georgia at 38, to mid-range Mark Sanchez of USC at 28 and Michael Vick of Virginia Tech at 20, to the lowest: Vince Young of Texas at 15, after getting a 6 on his first attempt.

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Berri and Simmons found no connection between where a quarterback was taken in the NFL meat market--that is, how highly he was rated on the basis of his college performance and his pro potentia--and how well he played in professional football.

The Wonderlic is a general test primarily used by employers.  It is designed to test problem solving skills.

For more info:

What NFL scouts are looking for in Sam Bradford, part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Take sample Wonderlic questions here

Wonderlic website

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