Here’s why the Wonderlic test is important at the NFL Scouting Combine


The NFL Scouting Combine begins Tuesday, which means we’re going to start seeing leaked Wonderlic test scores.

Everybody who follows the NFL has heard about the Wonderlic – a 50-question, 12-minute “IQ test” test that the NFL uses to grade prospects. The official results never are released, but for years, we’ve seen leaked scores.

Here are some of the reported low scores in recent years:

  • Florida quarterback Chris Leak: 8
  • West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin: 7
  • Miami running back Frank Gore: 6
  • Texas quarterback Vince Young: 6
  • LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne: 4

And here are some high scores that have been reported:

  • Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick: 48
  • Georgia tight end Benjamin Watson: 48
  • Utah State wide receiver Kevin Curtis: 48
  • Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson: 41
  • Utah quarterback Alex Smith: 40

There reportedly has been just one perfect score in combine history and that came from Harvard punter Pat McInally, who scored a 50 in 1975.

Most of us know about the careers of the aforementioned players. Frank Gore has made almost as many Pro Bowls (five) as he supposedly scored on the test. Vince Young become rookie of the year, then fizzled out. On the high side, Calvin Johnson become one of the best receivers in NFL history, which had as much to do with his size (6 feet 5, 2137 pounds) and speed (a 4.35 clocking in the 40 — in borrowed cleats – at the combine) as it did his intelligence. Both Alex Smith and Ben Watson have had strong careers as well, while Kevin Curtis was a decent but unspectacular receiver in the league.

RELATED: 20 players to watch at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine

Here are some actual questions I remember from the Wonderlic test that I took at the combine in 2013.

* A car traveled 28 miles in 30 minutes. How many MPH was it traveling?

  • A. 14
  • B. 28
  • C. 56
  • D. 64

* Hat is to head as glove is to ___________.

  • A. Hand
  • B. Hair
  • C. Fingers
  • D. Socks

Early in the test, those are the types of easy questions that you’ll see. Later, they get a bit more difficult.

* Two cars start off at the same point on a straight highway facing opposite directions. Each car drives for 6 miles, takes a left turn, and drives for 8 miles. How far apart are the two cars?

  • A. 2 miles
  • B. 11 miles
  • C. 14 miles
  • D. 20 miles
  • E. 26 miles

So, even if you have the skills to figure out the later questions, it still takes some time.

What the NFL wants to see is a player’s critical-thinking skills. Do the math: 50 questions in 12 minutes, and you realize you have 14.4 seconds to answer each question. All the public ever hears is the score that is reported. People just hear that Young scored a 6, but what they don’t realize is that NFL teams see the scores different. His score may have been a 6/22 (I made that second number up), meaning he got through 22 questions before the 12 minutes expired. That’s important for NFL teams because it shows that he wasn’t just missing a lot of questions, he didn’t even get through half of the test.

The NFL doesn’t care if you’re good at math or if you know what certain words mean. What they do care about is your ability to solve problems in a timely manner.

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