During the NFL Combine, every prospect participates in a Wonderlic test. The results of those tests are supposed to be kept private, but every year the numbers make their way to the public.
In his series of NFL Draft previews, The Athletic’s Bob McGinn has released Wonderlic scores on nearly every prospect so far. In this post, we’ll just be focused on the numbers from quarterbacks. We’ll also focus on whether the results of this test have any effect on the quarterback’s prospects as an NFL player.
First, an update to this post: Later reports contradicted McGinn’s list of test scores for top quarterback prospects. According to former Notre Dame receiver (and fellow 2020 draft prospect) Chase Claypool, Oregon’s Justin Herbert scored a 39 (out of 50) instead of the 25 that McGinn reported. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer backed Claypool’s statement.
A 39 would give Herbert the second-highest score for quarterbacks, just behind the 40 by Iowa’s Nate Stanley. Herbert won the Campbell Trophy, known as the “academic Heisman,” with a 4.01 GPA in biology.
Breer also reported that Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa scored a 19 instead of a 13 and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts scored a 21 instead of an 18. Jake Luton and Brian Lewerke also had higher scores than originally reported, according to Breer.
If you’re unfamiliar with what the Wonderlic test is, read this explanation from Wikipedia:
The Wonderlic Personnel Test is a popular group intelligence test used to assess the aptitude of prospective employees for learning and problem-solving in a range of occupations. The Wonderlic is available in 12 different languages and is often used in college, entry level jobs, and team-making efforts. It consists of 50 multiple choice questions to be answered in 12 minutes.
Wonderlic scores for 2020 NFL Draft quarterbacks
* Updated scores are according to SI’s Albert Breer.
Tagovailoa still had the lowest reported Wonderlic score among the 2020 draft-eligible quarterbacks with 19, if you replace McGinn’s original reports with Breer’s updates. That is just below the historical average of 20 based on data gathered from wonderlictestsample.com.
While Stanley’s 40 is well above average, it pales in comparison to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s score of 48, which is believed to be the highest Wonderlic test score ever recorded for an NFL quarterback.
SN’s Vinnie Iyer has Stanley going to the Bears in the seventh round in his latest mock draft.
Projected No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow (35) and Georgia’s Jake Fromm (34) also had above-average Wonderlic scores.
Does the Wonderlic test matter?
Now that you know the scores, it’s worth knowing if they even matter. In short, it depends on who you ask, but most people respond with “not really.” In a column for Sports Illustrated, Edward Krupat, PhD, wrote the Wonderlic is “an outdated way of thinking about intelligence when it comes to predicting performance on the football field.”
A well-researched article on Medium looked at quarterbacks only and determined there was a minor benefit at this position: “There seems to be a sort of smartness threshold, where the best NFL quarterbacks need to be at least this smart to see success. But once a QB passes that threshold (around a score of 25), their additional smartness has little to no effect on success on the field.”
Former NFL scout John Middlekauff has said in the past regarding the Wonderlic, “everything matters when it comes to quarterbacks.”
This article has been updated with new reporting on quarterback scores. Sporting News’ Austin Anderson contributed.
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