Why Do We Still Care About Wonderlic Scores?

Courtesy of USA Today Sports: These two quarterbacks will dictate what happens in the first round.

For some reason, “experts” seem to claim that real-life intelligence is a prelude to actual success on the football field. This is one of the most ridiculous parts of the NFL draft process.

Now with these wonderlic scores actually continuing to be leaked to the public, it works as some sort of a barometer for those who engage in group-think to gauge where certain prospects are heading into the draft.

Marcus Mariota outscored Jameis Winston in the wonderlic test at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this year. Henceforth, Mariota is going to be the better quarterback, right?

First off, here are some sample questions that have appeared in these ridiculous “tests” over the years.

Round 907.457 to the nearest tens place

Paper sells for 21 cents per pad. What will four pads cost?

If these are the questions the prospects are dealing with, one would hope they might be able to ace the test.

More than that, great wonderlic scores don’t necessarily equate to success on the field, just as below-average scores don’t indicate a prospect will be a bust.

Consider this: New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick boasts the highest score (48) for a quarterback in the history of the test. Former Jets quarterback Greg McElroy is second on that list (43), and former Oregon signal caller Jason Maas (43) ranks third.


That’s what we thought.

On the other end of the spectrum, current Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore put up the fourth-lowest score in the history of the test. Meanwhile, Morris Claiborne’s score of four is dead last.

Just because someone has common sense, which is all the wonderlic test indicates, it doesn’t mean that he’s going to be successful on the field. How in the world is it even possible to correlate someone’s knowledge of rounding up numbers in math to recognizing a blitz on the football field?

In addition to this, most NFL players aren’t going to be Rhodes Scholars. That’s not what NFL teams are asking them to be.

If all things are equal between two prospects, does this mean that teams will take into account a player’s wonderlic score? It’s possible, but most franchises take this with a grain of salt.

Though, Fox Sports’ Clay Travis did come up with an interesting tidbit of information regarding wonderlic scores.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”260″ size=”20″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#dd3333″]Current Super Bowl Winning Quarterback scores:
Eli Manning, Ole Miss 39
Aaron Rodgers, Cal 35
Tom Brady, Michigan 33
Peyton Manning, Tennessee 28
Drew Brees, Purdue 28
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin 28
Joe Flacco, Delaware 27
Ben Roethlisberger, Miami (Ohio) 25[/mks_pullquote]

Travis went on to indicate that Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks in today’s NFL average out to score the same as electrical engineers and chemists on the test.

This could be used to indicate that quarterback is the one outlier here. It could also be interpreted to mean absolutely nothing. If you asked Eli Manning if he was as smart as a chemist, he’d probably laugh in your face. It’s also a different type of intelligence.

Quarterback might be the one position where the wonderlic test matters—that is until we realize just how ridiculous the test itself is.

So instead of focusing on what each player might know about 10th grade math, maybe look at their character off the field. No one will argue that Mariota is more mature than his counterpart from Florida State. Just like most won’t argue that Winston is the more-talented quarterback.

That should be the tale of the tape, not some generic test that is conveniently leaked to the media in the days leading up to the draft.

Photo: USA Today Images