The NFL Draft is an inexact science. NFL scouts do as much research as possible on a player’s physical prowess, intelligence, and character. Despite all their best efforts, it’s still very difficult to predict who will turn out to be a superstar and who will be a bust. One of the tools that the scouts use to measure a prospect’s intelligence is the Wonderlic test. Throughout the years, some prospects have performed well on the test, while others have struggled to score highly.
As the NFL community gears up to evaluate the incoming draft class at the 2019 NFL Combine, let’s take a look back at the five NFL players with the worst Wonderlic scores.
Leonard Fournette, running back
Coming off a stellar career at LSU, expectations were high for Leonard Fournette at the 2017 NFL Combine. Fournette scored only an 11 on his Wonderlic. The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Fournette with the fourth pick overall, so his low score didn’t seem to do much damage to his draft stock.
After a promising rookie campaign in which he rushed for over 1,000 yards, Fournette played only eight games in 2018 due to injury. He also drew the ire of Jaguars executive Tom Coughlin for behavior Coughlin deemed selfish.
AJ Green, wide receiver
Green scored a 10 on his Wonderlic at the 2011 NFL Combine. The score didn’t affect his draft status. He went with the fourth overall pick to the Cincinnati Bengals, where he currently plays.
It would seem the Wonderlic was also a poor predictor of Green’s production as well as his draft position. In eight seasons, he’s amassed 602 receptions with 8,907 yards receiving. Though he only played nine games last year due to injury, he went to Pro Bowl the Pro Bowl in the seven seasons prior to 2018.
Patrick Peterson, cornerback
Peterson scored a nine the same year Green achieved his low score. Peterson’s story is strikingly similar to Green’s. His low score didn’t seem to impact his draft position as he went one slot after Green at fifth overall to the Arizona Cardinals.
Peterson is a Pro Bowl mainstay having made it to the all-star game every season of his career. Not only that, but he has three All-Pro honors to his name: 2011, 2013, and 2015. Peterson has also established himself as something of an Iron Man, as he’s never missed a game in his career.
Frank Gore, running back
A highly-touted talent coming out of the University of Miami, Gore scored a six on his Wonderlic test at the 2005 NFL Draft. It’s impossible to say definitively whether Gore’s low score factored into his draft position, but he did drop in the draft. Gore fell to be the 65th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers.
As far as Gore’s career goes? Consider this another mark against the effectiveness of the Wonderlic test. Gore has 14,748 rushing yards to his name in a 14-year career with the 49ers, Colts, and Dolphins. That’s good for fourth all-time, behind only legends such as Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders, who are among the greatest running backs of all time.
It’s safe to say that any team passing on Gore due to a low Wonderlic test score made a pretty big mistake.
Morris Claiborne, cornerback
The LSU defensive back scored a four on the Wonderlic test at the 2012 NFL Combine. That didn’t stop the Cowboys from trading up multiple slots to take Claiborne as the sixth overall pick in the draft that year.
Claiborne’s score was essentially negated later, however, when it was revealed he suffers from a learning disability. This is even more evidence that the Wonderlic test is an insufficient judge of a player’s intelligence or ability to adapt to complicated schemes of the NFL. Despite suffering injuries earlier in his career, Claiborne has settled in with a role on the New York Jets, playing 15 games in each of the last two seasons.