NFL Combine 2011: 10 Worst Wonderlic Scores in Combine History

Sean ZerilloCorrespondent IIFebruary 15, 2011

NFL Combine 2011: 10 Worst Wonderlic Scores in Combine History

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 18:  Quarterback Vince Young #10 of the Tennessee Titans grimaces in pain during the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game at EverBank Field on October 18, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by J. Me
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test is a 12-minute, 50-question exam designed to measure the learning and problem-solving abilities of potential employees. 

    The NFL began administering the test nearly 30 years ago. The scoring scale operates on a system of one point per correct answer. 

    Subjects with average intelligence are expected to score in the area of 20 points, and those who can't muster double-digits are considered to be illiterate. 

    The test doesn't tell everything about a player, only basic intelligence. Positive Wonderlic results don't guarantee NFL success, nor do low scores guarantee a disappointing career. 

    Dan Marino, for example, scored a 16 on his Wonderlic; the average for NFL quarterbacks is 24. 

    Former Bengals punter Pat McInally (Harvard) scored the only perfect 50 in the history of the test's administration. He claims the score hurt his draft status since several teams shied away from picking a smart player who could potentially clash with the coaches. 

    Boston College graduate and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mike Mamula scored the only 49 in 1995. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (Harvard), Browns tight end Ben Watson (Georgia) and Chiefs wideout Kevin Curtis (Utah State) have scored the only 48's. 

    But for every exceptional score, there exist tests where players have struggled to prove they could even read what they were doing.

    What follows is a list of the 10 worst Wonderlic scores in NFL history, and the stories of the players who "achieved" them.  

10. Hakeem Nicks, WR

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    School: North Carolina

    NFL Teams: Giants (2009-present)

    Wonderlic Score: 11

    Average score for position: 17

    Hakeem Nicks is just two years into his NFL career, but he has already proven to be a dangerous receiver playing under the Sunday spotlight.

    Nicks left North Carolina after his junior season, and draft experts compared him to Anquan Boldin and Hines Ward. His college coach, Butch Davis, took it a step further and compared Nicks favorably to Michael Irvin. 

    Quite the company. 

    With Steve Smith injured, Nicks excelled in 2010 as Eli Manning's main target. He hauled in 79 passes for 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is a tremendous route runner, and he has even better hands. 

    He is also deceptively fast and strong enough to catch the ball under contact. Nicks has quickly become one of Manning's favorite receivers. Heading into his junior year, the former 29th overall pick seems to have a limitless ceiling. 

    Was the Wonderlic an accurate indicator of performance?

    Verdict:  He'll continue to get better. Even now, it's still a firm NO (0-1-0).

9. CJ Spiller, RB

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    School: Clemson

    NFL Teams: Buffalo Bills (2010-present)

    Wonderlic Score: 10

    Average score for position: 16

    Running backs historically have the worst average score on Wonderlic tests.

    Coming out of college, CJ Spiller had an amazing track record. As a result, it's no surprise he was selected with the ninth overall pick by the Buffalo Bills. 

    As a high school recruit, Spiller was rated as the No. 8 overall player, No. 1 player in Florida and the No. 1 all-purpose running back in the country. 

    He committed to the Clemson Tigers and immediately became a fan favorite. In four seasons, Spiller racked up 3,480 rushing yards (5.9 YPC) and 1,362 receiving yards (11.3 YPC), to go along with 43 touchdowns (32 rushing, 11 receiving). He placed sixth in Heisman voting during his senior season. 

    Spiller struggled during his first season in Buffalo, despite the fact that numerous pundits had made him their preseason Offensive Rookie of the Year.

    Behind a depleted Bills offensive line and with a poor defense that always kept Buffalo trailing in games, Spiller never managed more than 11 touches in a single day, having minimal impact.  He still possesses speed (4.27 and 4.28 in the 40-yard dash at the combine), great hands and moves in the open field, though. 

    He has the talent to be a great NFL running back. Results need to follow. 

    Was the Wonderlic an accurate indicator of performance?

    Verdict: Too early to tell. PUSH (0-1-1).


8. Michael Bishop, QB

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    School: Kansas State

    NFL Teams: New England Patriots (1999-2000)

    Wonderlic Score: 10

    Average score for position: 24

    Michael Bishop was a phenomenal athlete who probably wasn't good enough in either of his particular disciplines (baseball and football) to compete professionally. 

    Bishop was selected in the 25th round of the 1995 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians. He instead chose to play football at Blinn Junior College, where he led the Buccaneers to two NJCAA national championships and 12-0 perfect seasons. 

    After being recruited by coach Bill Snyder, Bishop led the Kansas State Wildcats to an 11-1 season and a Fiesta Bowl win over Donovan McNabb and Syracuse. 

    During his senior season, Bishop broke school records with 2,844 passing yards and 23 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He also rushed for 748 yards and 14 touchdowns, finishing second to Ricky Williams in Heisman voting. 

    Bishop was selected in the seventh round by the New England Patriots, playing only two seasons and attempting nine passes. He was eventually released and bounced around to NFL Europe, the Arena Football League, the Canadian Football league and two minor independent leagues. 

    Such is the life of a seventh-round NFL draft pick. No opportunity, no job security. 

    Was the Wonderlic an accurate indicator of performance?

    Verdict: Yes, but so was his draft positioning (1-1-1).

7. Jeff George, QB

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    School: Illinois

    NFL Teams: Colts (1990-1993), Falcons (1994-1996), Raiders (1997-1998), Vikings (1999), Redskins (2000-2001)

    Wonderlic Score: 10

    Average score for position: 24

    A native of Indianapolis, Jeff George was drafted first overall by the Colts in 1990 and was rewarded with what was then the richest rookie contract in league history. His career in Indianapolis was tumultuous from the start, and George was ultimately traded to the Atlanta Falcons after four seasons. 

    After guiding the Falcons to a 9-7 record and a playoff appearance in 1995, George had a falling-out with Falcons coach June Jones. He was suspended for the most of the 1996 season and was traded to Oakland at its conclusion.

    George tied for the NFL lead with 29 touchdowns in 1997, but the Raiders only finished 4-12. John Gruden, whose West Coast passing style didn't suit George, was hired in 1998. George eventually lost his job to Donald Hollins and then Rich Gannon.  

    After replacing a struggling Randall Cunningham in Minnesota in 1999, George had his most successful season, going 8-2 and leading the Vikings to a playoff win over the Cowboys before ultimately bowing out to the Super Bowl champion Rams. 

    George tested free agency following the season and signed a nice deal to be Brad Johnson's backup in Washington under coach Norv Turner. 

    Turner was eventually replaced by Marty Schottenheimer, and a then-starting George was released by the Redskins following a 30-7 blowout loss on Monday Night Football to the Packers. 

    George had once again been ousted by the West Coast offense. With just one career playoff win, 57 percent completion and a 154-113 TD-INT ratio, George's accomplishments never met with his expectations as the first overall pick.

    Was the Wonderlic an accurate indicator of performance?

    Verdict: George was a bust. YES (2-1-1).

6. Sebastian Janikowski, K

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    School: Florida State

    NFL Teams: Oakland Raiders (2000 - present)

    Wonderlic Score: 9

    Average score for position: N/A

    How smart do you need to be to kick a ball anyway? 

    Sebastian Janikowski was a Polish immigrant and converted soccer player who, in just one season of high school football, hit four field goals of more than 50 yards, plus one 60-yarder.

    After committing to Florida State, Janikowski amassed 324 points (third all-time by a Seminole) and became the first two-time winner of the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker.  

    Al Davis used the 17th overall pick in 2000 to select Janikowski, two spots ahead of future Seahawks star Shaun Alexander. It was just the third time in NFL history a kicker had been taken in the first round. 

    While Janikowski does own several Raiders records (most points (1,000), longest field goal (61 yards), highest field goal percentage (76 percent)) and possesses a booming leg, it's hard to justify using a first-round pick on a kicker.

    Janikowski is not the greatest thing since sliced bread, but he most certaintly isn't a bust either. 

    Was the Wonderlic an accurate indicator of performance?

    Verdict: Janikowski's score should indicate that he can't read. But do you need to be able to read to kick? NO (2-2-1).



5. Chris Leak, QB

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 08:  Quarterback Chris Leak #12 of the Florida Gators looks to pas the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the second quarter of the 2007 Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Januar
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    School: Florida

    NFL Teams: Chicago Bears (2007)

    Wonderlic Score: 8

    Average score for position: 24

    Chris Leak was an extremely talented college quarterback. Scouts ranked him as the No. 3 overall quarterback in the country coming out of Independence High School in Charlotte, N.C. 

    Leak was an accurate passer, and in 2006, he helped lead Urban Meyer's Florida Gators to their second national championship. He threw for at least 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns with 63 percent completion in both his junior and senior years. 

    Standing just 5'11", Leak was considered too small to play in the NFL. Coupled with his low Wonderlic score, which apparently was recorded in the year prior to the 2007 NFL Combine, Leak went undrafted and signed on as a a free agent with the Chicago Bears.

    He was cut prior to the end of the preseason and eventually caught on with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL. He is a backup to three-time league MVP Anthony Calvillo. 

    Was the Wonderlic an accurate indicator of performance?

    Verdict: Leak didn't get much of a fair shake at the NFL. But YES, probably (3-2-1).

4. Vince Young, QB

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    School: Texas

    NFL Teams: Titans (2006-present)

    Wonderlic Score: (6 on first take, 14 on re-take)

    Average score for position: 24

    Few NFL players gained as much ire for their poor Wonderlic score as Vince Young did.

    After leading Texas to a national championship over Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and the mighty USC Trojans, Young was the hottest commodity in football.

    Standing a towering 6'5" with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, Young was unlike any dual-threat quarterback the college game had ever seen. A master of the zone read, where Young had the option to pass or run it himself, he was a terror to college defenses.

    If not for the existence of Reggie Bush, one of the greatest college football players of all time, Young would have been the clear-cut Heisman favorite.

    Young threw for 3,036 yards with 26 TD and 10 INT. He ran for an additional 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns. Scouts questioned his throwing accuracy, and recording a six on the Wonderlic didn't help his cause to become the first overall selection by his hometown Houston Texans. 

    The Titans still chose Young with the third selection. While he has won games in the NFL, his career numbers are far from impressive. Although he has completed 58 percent of his passes, Young has an identical number of touchdowns and interceptions (42). 

    While effective on the ground, registering 1,380 yards on 264 career carries (5.2 YPC) with 12 touchdowns, Young's health has become an issue, and he has started to run less. 

    The Tennessee Titans are cleaning house. Coach Jeff Fisher was fired, and Young is expected to be traded when a new CBA is reached between the players and owners. 

    It will be interesting to see where he ends up and if he improves. Quite frankly, he didn't have anything close to an elite receiver during his time in Tennessee. 

    Was the Wonderlic an accurate indicator of performance?

    Verdict: Until he's able to stay on the field and reduce his interception rate, Vince Young is a bust as a third overall pick. YES (4-2-1).

3. Oscar Davenport, QB

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    School: North Carolina

    NFL Teams: None

    Wonderlic Score: 6

    Average score for position: 24

    Before there was Vince Young, Oscar Davenport shocked the world by finishing with a whopping six correct answers on his Wonderlic. 

    Davenport didn't play much in college. He was a developmental project who had sporadic success during his senior season, but he possessed all the tools of an NFL quarterback. 

    He was mobile and had a cannon for an arm. Accuracy was an issue, though, as was his lack of experience. 

    After leading the 1997 Tar Heels to a victory in the Gator Bowl over West Virginia, Davenport's tools led to NFL inquiries. He was ultimately considered too much of a project and was passed over in the draft.  

    Despite a good arm, Oscar Davenport was out of football as quickly as he'd become noticed for his accomplishments.

    Was the Wonderlic an accurate indicator of performance?
     

    Verdict:  Davenport did have a good arm, but he was too thin to play in the NFL. The six on his Wonderlic probably cost him his only shot. YES (5-2-1).

2. Pig Prather, S

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    School: Mississippi State

    NFL Teams: None

    Wonderlic Score: 5

    Average score for position: 19

    "Pig" Prather was a nicely-sized safety with outstanding speed. Unfortunately, he probably couldn't read a stop sign. 

    He had success in college, recording 221 tackles, seven sacks, seven forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He also excelled against the run and had 16 tackles for a loss.

    He was seen as a gambler who was weak in pass coverage due to his tendency to bite on pump fakes. Prather was talented, but he made too many dumb mistakes on the field. 

    Mental lapses don't look good on film. They look even worse when you can barely even get one out of every 10 questions right on the Wonderlic test. 

    Was the Wonderlic an accurate indicator of performance?

    Verdict:  Prather wasn't given a true chance, but it's likely he would've have been absolutely shredded by NFL quarterbacks. YES (6-2-1).

1. Darren Davis, RB

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    School: Iowa State

    NFL Teams: None

    Wonderlic Score: 4

    Average score for position: 16

    From 1996-1999, Darren Davis had a tremendous career as an Iowa State Cyclone. He became the first running back in school history to rush for more than 1,000 yards three times. 

    Davis owns the Iowa State record for career rushing attempts (823) and is second all-time in rushing and total yards behind his brother, Troy, who played in the NFL for three seasons with the New Orleans Saints. 

    Darren led the Big 12 in rushing yards in 1999 with 1,388 and finished with 26 career touchdowns. He was passed over in the NFL draft and opted to pursue a career in the Canadian Football League alongside his brother. 

    In 2000-2001, Darren rushed for 1,024 and 1,243 yards with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, where he was among the CFL's best running backs. He was released by Ottawa following the 2003 season after serving as a backup for two years. 

    Was the Wonderlic an accurate indicator of performance?

    Verdict:  Who knows? Davis wasn't given a fair shake, and he had success for two years in the CFL. Clearly he had talent, so who knows if he would have excelled in the NFL for those same two years. Not enough information PUSH (6-2-2).