Defensive back Richard Sherman has brought years of chaos to opposing offenses and now he’s bringing clarity to the Wonderlic Test, a questionable staple of prospect evaluations ahead of the NFL draft that attracts more attention than it deserves.
The latest Wonderlic drama came Friday when a leaked report on Tua Tagovailoa’s test score raced through social media – and then that report was revealed as erroneous, creating still more chatter.
What is the NFL draft connection to the Wonderlic?
The Wonderlic Test was developed by Eldon F. Wonderlic while he was a graduate student at Northwestern University in 1937. It is used to measure cognitive ability and problem-solving capability, which is the source of its popularity in workplace hiring. It consists of 50 multiple choice questions to be answered in 12 minutes.
Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry is credited with introducing the test in the NFL in the 1970s. It has been used at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, with the supposedly confidential information frequently leaking out to the media and the general public. That happened again last week when scores for numerous quarterbacks were circulated ahead of this week’s NFL draft.
The test is graded on a 50-point system with Cincinnati Bengals punter Pat McInally, a 1975 draft pick, recording the only perfect score. Defensive end Mike Mamula scored a 49 in 1995 and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick registered an 18 in 2005. It has occasionally been suggested that teams shy away from players with high scores because they might be too independent-minded and therefore less coachable.
Why does Richard Sherman dismiss the test’s value?
Veteran NFL defensive back Richard Sherman has a Stanford education and nine years of experience with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, so he knows something about taking tests and evaluating pro talent. That makes him worth listening to when he tweets “no one cares” about the Wonderlic Test as it pertains to the NFL draft.
The test may have value in sorting out the merits of candidates in a business environment, but an NBC Sports story last week noted that studies discount its value in the NFL, where the job is more physical than mental. Do you think general managers want a wide receiver with a 38 on the Wonderlic and 4.9-second clocking in the 40-yard dash or one with a 19 on the test and 4.4 speed?
Add to that concerns about a potential built-in racial bias to the questions, the suggestion that players might not be at their sharpest after several days of physical testing and team interviews at the NFL Scouting Combine, and the likelihood that some prospects simply don’t take the test seriously or tank it to avoid looking smarter than their future employer.
Proof that Richard Sherman is probably correct
Assuming the worse – that Tua Tagovailia’s most recent Wonderlic test score was a 13 instead of the 19 that subsequent reports stated – the history of quarterbacks suggests no general manager needing a signal-caller when the NFL draft begins Thursday will pass on the Alabama star unless their concern about him is related to injuries.
Don’t believe it? Dan Marino scored 15 or 16 on the test depending upon who you listen to. Jim Kelly and Terry Bradshaw posted 15’s. Donovan McNabb clocked in at 14.
And, oh yeah, reigning NFL Most Valuable Player https://www.sportscasting.com/lamar-jackson-is-suing-amazon-to-protect-his-brand-and-likeness/Lamar Jackson scored a 14. Who out there thinks Jackson needs to take some remedial classes if he is ever going to make it big in football?
Yeah, we thought so.