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Pat McInally thinks perfect Wonderlic score hurt his draft stock

A surprising number of you have expressed disagreement with our assessment that Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy got 48 of 50 questions correct on the Wonderlic test could be viewed by some coaches as a negative.

Don’t confuse our belief that some coaches could resist the idea of having a smarty pants in the locker room as a belief that we think it’s bad to be too smart.  In our view, you can never be too smart.

But some NFL coaches may think a guy can be too smart.  If you don’t believe us, take it from Pat McInally, the only guy who ever scored a perfect 50 in the Wonderlic.

McInally believes the performance actually drove him down the board.

How did it hurt me in the draft?” McInally told in 2006.  “Coaches and front-office guys don’t like extremes one way or the other, but particularly not on the high side.  I think they think guys who are intelligent will challenge authority too much.”

Coaches don’t want clubhouse lawyers.  Smart guys could fill that role.  Though we think plenty of not smart guys can be clubhouse lawyers, too, smart guys can use that power against the coaching staff, if they so choose.

The real question is to find out whether the smart guy could be inclined to try to be a wiseguy.

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41 Responses to “Pat McInally thinks perfect Wonderlic score hurt his draft stock”
  1. maddog111 says: Feb 28, 2011 1:16 PM

    Fascinating stuff. Please post more and more Wonderlic stories for us, we can’t get enough.

  2. waitingguilty says: Feb 28, 2011 1:17 PM

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the fact that he was a Punter who sometimes played WR is the reason he was drafted in the 5th Rd….And for a guy who basically played mostly Punter in his career, that’s a pretty high spot to be taken.

    I don’t buy the NFL being afraid of a high Wonderlic score, not at all.

  3. hobartbaker says: Feb 28, 2011 1:18 PM

    Especially punters who have nothing better to do while they sit on their ass for 98% of the game.

  4. xstaticonradio says: Feb 28, 2011 1:20 PM

    I think the fact that he wasn’t a very good player is what hurt his draft stock.

  5. We'reFineThere says: Feb 28, 2011 1:24 PM

    The game is so much more complex than it was in the 1970’s it’s not even close. I’m sorry, but Terry Bradshaw couldn’t win 4 Superbowls in the modern era. I don’t know what I think of McElroy as a Pro prospect, but I know he was able to lead a bunch of future NFL players to a championship.

  6. contract says: Feb 28, 2011 1:27 PM

    A punter thinks his Wonderlic score hurt his draft stock? I’m starting to wonder if someone didn’t take that test for him.

  7. clintonportisheadd says: Feb 28, 2011 1:30 PM

    Yet they will draft known dummies like Vick, Leaf and Vince Young for the most cerebral position on the field…

  8. bluvayner says: Feb 28, 2011 1:31 PM

    The other factor is that a very smart guy might think that football is not the only thing that he can do in his life. When the going gets tough, he might decide that football is not worth it anymore, and find a less dangerous way to earn a good living.

  9. dexterismyhero says: Feb 28, 2011 1:31 PM

    A wise guy punter.

    So instead of the Bengals, who would have taken him?

    What round did he go in anyway?

  10. smilesaustin says: Feb 28, 2011 1:32 PM

    Well, of course a former NFL player who wasn’t drafted as high as he wanted to be might make the excuse that his draft stock was hurt because he was determined to be too smart. But unless you can find a former coach or scout that will confirm that a high Wonderlic score actually hurts a player’s draft stock, I just don’t buy it.

    Especially for the quarterback position, what you’ve got between the ears is often paramount to any physical trait. I think such a high Wonderlic score for McElroy should (and will) be an outstanding mark on his draft stock as a quarterback.

    I’m sure there’s a coach or two who might look at it that way, but I don’t think it’s even worth making a big deal out of.

  11. packerrube13 says: Feb 28, 2011 1:33 PM

    Its an interesting question. I think if you have a strong, secure coach in place in wouldn’t matter. (Like Bill Belichek comes to mind as someone who would take him right away, because he values having smart players and is extremely secure and has a strong, dominate personality)

    It is an interesting debate though.

  12. packerrube13 says: Feb 28, 2011 1:34 PM

    And I’m not discussing this story specifically, just high scores in general. I don’t think an abnormally high score would scare off secure, dominant coaches.

  13. bluvayner says: Feb 28, 2011 1:35 PM

    hobartbaker says:
    Feb 28, 2011 1:18 PM
    “Especially punters who have nothing better to do while they sit on their ass for 98% of the game.”

    Hobart….McInally was not just a punter. He was a pretty decent possession wide receiver too. Not a star, but he did OK.

  14. thegreenviking says: Feb 28, 2011 1:36 PM

    All it takes is for either party to have a bit of humility and this is a non-issue. Not all coaches and players are mental elitests who like to play mind games.

  15. thehatefulnerd says: Feb 28, 2011 1:37 PM

    Other positions might be different, but you want your QB to be smart.

  16. redskinvoice says: Feb 28, 2011 1:38 PM

    I call this the “Mcdonalds Management School of Thought”
    If the manager’s IQ is a 51, then this manager will only hire employees with an IQ of 50 or less. This holds true to the vast majority of Mcdonalds. I pray the NFL hasn’t adopted this philosophy.

  17. 3octaveFart says: Feb 28, 2011 1:39 PM

    “Coaches don’t want clubhouse lawyers”

    ..and fans don’t want sportswriter lawyers.
    We all have our crosses to bear don’t we?

  18. gargoyle10 says: Feb 28, 2011 1:42 PM

    “I think they think guys who are intelligent will challenge authority too much.”

    Yeah because EVERYONE knows that Vince Young’s “6” never challenge anyone especially da coach!

  19. armchairgm9 says: Feb 28, 2011 1:45 PM

    We disagree with an article…you post an article with one guy who agrees with you… Are you insecure?

  20. gargoyle10 says: Feb 28, 2011 1:50 PM

    Having a QB prospect scoring high on a wonderlic is as important as having a WR possessing great speed.

    Funny how many stiffs on NFL network care about a QB’s forty time, but fail to mention the importance of the mental aspect of the position?

    Who gives a rat’s arse if my QB runs a sub 4.6 or long jumps 10 feet.

    Can he DISSECT defenses and throw accurately?

    I am sure Cam’s wonderlic score will be buried.

  21. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor says: Feb 28, 2011 1:52 PM

    While I agree with you that intelligence can conflict with authority (especially irrational, “I don’t care what you say and I’m not going to listen, it’s my way or the highway” authority), I don’t think a quarterback being too smart can be considered a bad thing. You want your quarterback to be the smartest guy on your team.

    Also, for any team with a decent, reasonable coach who isn’t stuck in his ways, I don’t see the problem at all.

  22. gugurich says: Feb 28, 2011 2:01 PM

    I think he’s giving too much credence to the Wonderlic. I could be wrong but I doubt coaches and GMs thought that his perfect score made him some kind of intellectual giant who wouldn’t follow orders from jocks.

  23. zmoney83 says: Feb 28, 2011 2:03 PM

    McInally is almost 60 years old and began playing in ’76!!! MAYBE “coaches and front-office guys” thought that a player having a high score meant they would also challenge authority BACK IN THE 70’s, but that’s beyond incongruous to think that mindset still exists. In fact, I can GUARANTEE you that the players who score the worst on the Wonderlic are the ones who cause grief for the front office.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick (also a Harvard grad like McInally) is the closest player since McInally to have a perfect score. Last time I checked he wasn’t causing any issues for the Bills, but torching NFL defenses for 300+ passing yds and multiple TD’s. From everything I’ve seen he’s nothing but a team player and doesn’t challenge authority whatsoever. It’s the players who are super-stars in college who don’t listen at the next level (i.e. Vince Young…who btw scored a 6–yes a SIX–on the Wonderlic). Their whole life they’ve relied on their athletic ability to get them where they are, but somehow due to the endless praise they receive from their coaches, fans, media, etc. they think they’re perfect, know it all and don’t need to listen to anybody.

    Here’s a revelation for you…maybe the fact McInally “fell to the 5th round” and Fitzpatrick the 7th is because they weren’t great athletes coming out of college.

    I would take a guy like McElroy who will be able to break down an NFL defense over another QB who is hyped up because they have a “rocket arm” or “can run a sub 4.6 forty”. Those “glamor traits” only get you so far in the NFL then you’re screwed because you don’t listen (i.e. Vince Young).

    Everyone seems to forget Tom Brady had horrible “measurables” at the combine. He ran a 5.23 forty and only had a 24.5″ vertical, but did score a 33 on his Wonderlic. Then he was taken #199 and the rest is history…

  24. oaklegend says: Feb 28, 2011 2:04 PM

    Yeah, THAT’S why he slipped in the draft. Great story guys. Great objective source too.

  25. toolkien says: Feb 28, 2011 2:13 PM

    It’s not like the wonderlic is the Mensa exam. If you have an ounce of logic and can set up a two variable algebraic matrix you should be able to score very well, even perfect. I’d think anyone with a modestly above average IQ (110-ish) who has taken algebra should score 47 out of 50. I think it shows just how low the athletic portion of “education” has fallen if 50 out of 50 is rare. A bunch of kinesiology majors having their “tutors” do their homework for them isn’t outputting Rhodes Scholars anytime soon I guess.

  26. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Feb 28, 2011 2:21 PM

    Yeh well, both Steve Young and his center, Bart Oats, have LAW degrees. It’s not if someone is ‘too smart’ it’s do they “want it” and will they leave their last drop of blood on the field to get it.

  27. vadog says: Feb 28, 2011 2:21 PM

    A team full of highly intelligent players (with some athletic talent) will beat a team full of highly athletic players (with some intelligence) anyday and everyday.

    What a sad world it is when intelligence is something to be looked down on and feared!!

  28. commentcentral says: Feb 28, 2011 2:25 PM

    Please site examples of difficult players with high wonderlic scores to substantiate your idea that they might challenge authority.

  29. universalcynic says: Feb 28, 2011 2:34 PM

    Great point Mike.

    Especially when you consider that the 1975 draft and the 2011 draft have so much in common.

    I’m sure that coaches tell their scouting department “We don’t need another Pat McInally in this locker room.”

    Thanks for responding to the throng’s request for solid proof to back up your ridiculous theory.

    A Harvard grad, drafted by the Bengals, in 1975 is certainly all the evidence you need to say:

    “Having a guy in the locker room who may be smarter than every member of the coaching staff can be viewed as a problem..”- MF

    Keep up the excellent work.

  30. gugurich says: Feb 28, 2011 2:44 PM

    “Everyone seems to forget Tom Brady had horrible “measurables” at the combine. He ran a 5.23 forty and only had a 24.5″ vertical, but did score a 33 on his Wonderlic. Then he was taken #199 and the rest is history…”

    I don’t think anyone forgets that Brady had terrible athletic measurements. It’s brought up all the time whenever Newton’s athletic numbers are brought up. So are Peyton Manning’s.

    Two big differences between someone like McIlroy and Brady is that Brady actually has a cannon and great height. Sure he isn’t fast or capable of hurdling defenders but he does have a big tool that lets him make all the throws and stick balls into tight windows. You do need something more than intelligence to be a good QB.

  31. joe6606 says: Feb 28, 2011 2:53 PM

    (1) He broke his leg during the college all-star game, prior to the draft. It was an injury that was so severe that he had to sit out his entire rookie NFL season.

    (2) He played college football in the Ivy League. Now, I’m not old enough to confirm, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the quality of players in the Ivys in the 70s was vastly inferior to guys in the Big-10, Pac 10, etc, etc.

    I would say these 2 reasons explain more why he was drafted lower than he expected than his perfect wonderlic

  32. all4patriots says: Feb 28, 2011 2:56 PM

    xstaticonradio said “I think the fact that he wasn’t a very good player is what hurt his draft stock”

    You are, I am guessing, too young to remember, but he was a 1st team All-American WR at Harvard. In the pros he had a long (10 year) career and was a 1st team All-Pro choice at least once.

    While he thinks his score may have hurt him, Paul Brown (who quite literally INVENTED the ideas of having a playbook that required people to memorize multiple options and to study film) was his coach and he was known to favor the brainy guys, because he demanded off-the-field study (which wasn’t at all common at the time).

  33. EJ says: Feb 28, 2011 3:11 PM

    Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the physical traits of a superstar QB, but can dissect a Defense with ease. His perfect score on the Wonderlic test had no effect on his draft position what so ever. 7th round genius with big upside, especially as a leader. So no, I do not believe your score being high effects your draft position. Now a low score, maybe…

  34. goriidskiiin says: Feb 28, 2011 3:36 PM

    Vince Young got one of the lowest of all time, so did Vick and Tebow. Do you want a total idiot at QB or someone who is….gasp….smart

  35. realitypolice says: Feb 28, 2011 3:48 PM

    A punter from Harvard who got drafted in the 5th round 30 years ago thinks his wonderlic score hurt him?

    Yes, because typically receivers from Ivy League schools who project as NFL punters are drafted much, much, higher.

    He must be one of those people that “test well” because he’s got Vince Young level common sense.

  36. realitypolice says: Feb 28, 2011 3:50 PM

    toolkien says:

    two variable algebraic matrix

    If I ever get banned and have to reregister, I’m using that as my new screen name.

    Doh! Now I’ve given myself away.

  37. rcali says: Feb 28, 2011 3:56 PM

    If Cam Newton would have scored a 48 people would be wetting their pants right now.

  38. realitypolice says: Feb 28, 2011 5:13 PM

    rcali says:
    Feb 28, 2011 3:56 PM
    If Cam Newton would have scored a 48 people would be wetting their pants right now.

    If Cam Newton scored a 48 people would be wondering who took the test for him.

  39. goforthanddie says: Feb 28, 2011 6:13 PM

    “Oh no, our punter has a brain!”

  40. massivedick says: Mar 1, 2011 9:32 AM

    McInally is a genius … get paid pretty good bucks to kick a ball a couple times a game …. not expected to hit or be hit (of course unless blocked). gets to tap some cheerleader strange. Genius!

  41. lydialynne says: Mar 2, 2011 10:39 PM

    Consideration must be given to the individual player. Would you rather choose Greg McElroy, who is widely known as someone who is supremely intelligent, does whatever is necessary to help the team as a whole, including deflecting personal praise onto his teammates, and willingly taking a back seat in the media to others on the team who have received more hype? Or would you prefer someone who scores a 15 on the Wonderlic and brings “baggage” of another type to the team, i.e., a lengthy arrest record for DUI, drug possession, stalking, assaulting a police officer, and whatever else Derek Dooley’s and Mark Richt’s boys have been up to? The smart money will be on G-Mac every time.

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