How Useful is the Wonderlic Test?
Dan had dropped me home after recording this weeks pod and I found myself restless and in need of Stimulation.
My wife and 2 year old son slept soundly upstairs while my active imagination ran riot.
Traditional relaxation techniques didnt interest me, I needed something pretty “out there” to sate my needs.
So I quietly reached for my laptop turned it on and there in the dark I found the very stimuli I had been longing, nay yearning for…..
The Wunderlic Test!
The Wunderlic is a timed logic reasoning and intelligence test used to measure NFL players mental agility. The test has 50 questions and has a 12 minute time limit. The questions are mostly tests of advanced literacy, numeracy and reasoning. The expectation is that someone of average intelligence will score 20 or more out of 50 on the test.
With each passing year It is being considered , more and more relevant as a tool to help evaluate draft talent, particularly at certain positions.
The evolution of modern offense and defense in the last 10 years has been startling. The variety and layers of verbiage, and detail in an NFL playbook can be a real shock to the mind. Even for experienced college players from Pro-style offenses. It appears that, for certain position groups the Wunderlic is a very relevant factor in determining draft stock Particularly for QB’S and Inside Linebackers, who are often responsible for playcalling and audibling during games, or for the Center, who in most offenses make pre-snap protection adjustments based on defensive adjustments. Its always been a factor but maybe now more than ever.
30 years ago the average Pro Offensive playbook was about 80 pages. Teams usually ran out of 4 or 5 formations with maybe 4 or 5 different personnel groups maximum, and probably a total of between 50-70 plays in it. Fast forward to today and the evolution in formations and the increase in the use of slot receivers and dual receiving tight end sets means that now a modern west coast team may have over 200 variations of pass play in that playbook, not including the expanded variety of running plays.
So in that context and the fact that Defensive playbooks are about ten times the size they were even 15 years ago it would seem that intelligence tests are more and more relevant.
But I dont think its just the logic and reasoning that is the be all and end all here, it also indicates wether a player will be able to learn all the plays by simply attending meetings or wether that player is more of a physical learner who might need extra reps with the practice squad. For example, you can probably get away with simply telling a Julian Edelman type player who scored well in a wunderlic, why he wasnt beating a corners press coverage and that is enough. Whereas with a player like Gronk, who scored lower, you might get the receiver coach and Gronk to physically simulate what was happening and run through it on the sideline or in practice.
The Wunderlic points to what kind of learner the prospect will be. Not the speed they learn at but the method they respond to best. That in turn helps coaches get the most out of the talent at their disposal.
Another important thing the wonderlic does, is that it tests the players response to pressure. The test is timed for a reason. Players that score highly, clearly demonstrate intellect and aptitude under pressure. Lets face it every on field decision a player makes will come in some kind of high pressure situation. And while its nice if your player can answer complex questions on algebra its better if he can still do it under stress and pressure. Especially QB’s. Also with unlimited time a decent percentage of people would get 25 on a Wunderlic. 25 is considered a decent score for a potential starting QB but sharp, cool collected kids do it in 12 minutes.
The reason the Wunderlic isnt a bigger deal in draft evaluation is simple. A lot of very smart very intelligent players have very average scores. And a lot of genius level prospects arent very good at all.
To prove my point, here are 10 Wunderlic scores that will surprise you.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 48
Peyton Manning: 27
Blaine Gabbert 42
Dan Marino: 16
Alex Smith: 39
Terry Bradshaw: 15
Tom Brady: 33
Cam Newton: 21
Christian Ponder: 35
Steve Young: 33.
The conclusion one can come to is that a wunderlic is no guarantee off success, just as a 4.3 second 40 time is or 35 reps on the bench press. But it is invaluable in giving a coach an idea of the kind of training camp that guy needs to have to succeed. Or wether he will flourish in that system. After all a QB wouldnt need a huge score to grasp the Chip Kelly spread offense, but it would be desirable in Andy Reids complex West coast system.
Conducted and written up in the style of a GCSE Science practical. For all you hip youngsters….
Anyway. As a bit of fun the gents all sat the same online wunderlic test on the same day at roughly the same time and we got a set of results. The initial results we got were as follows. The names have been changed to protect the fundamentally stupid.
Gent A: 26
Gent B: 22
Gent C: 27
Gent D: 21
Gent E: 42 ( we asked for a screen shot of that as evidence btw!)
Not bad at all, all above average, with only one massive deviation from the average.
(well done gent D.)
Now one of the Gents is actually a Doctor, has a certified doctorate and is therefore supposedly just the type of person to excel here. He didnt. He just did “rather well”. Anyway I was infuriated by my average score and decided to re-sit it after a particularly strong cup of coffee.
My result improved dramatically. I completed the whole quiz two mins early and improved my score by 24%.
I shared this with the gents and we all decided to re-sit the wonderlic after a nice cuppa. The results were incredible.
Gent A: went from 26 to 35.
Gent B: went from 22 to 29
Gent C: went from 27 to 35
Gent D: went from 21 to 27
Gent E: went from 42 to 43.
So as you can see, we all went from borderline QB material to all pretty much sitting between Blaine Gabbert and Peyton Manning. Congrats to Gent E, in particular, thats a spectacular display of intellect! However you’re still not in Ryan Fitzpatricks league so dont get too cocky eh?
This experiment tells us that if prospects want to maximise their potential score, they could do much worse than have a nice brew beforehand. It also suggests that Johnny Manziel got a 32 after injecting espresso into his eyeballs.
If you want to sit the wunderlic we took follow this link. But have a cuppa first.
Anyway enjoy the draft.
P.s Paxton Lynch scored 18…..just sayin….