Wonderlic maven Watson talks importance of test

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There are no academic studies that prove a Wonderlic score is indicative of players’ on-field performance, but the test itself is still one of the most hotly debated pre-draft measurables.

Browns tight end Ben Watson answered 48 of 50 questions correctly at the 2004 Scouting Combine. He discussed the test’s significance in a Thursday interview with Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald.

“I don’t know how much weight is put on it,” conceded Watson, whom the Patriots drafted with the 32nd overall pick in 2004. “Some teams, I hear, put a lot of weight on it. Some teams don’t care. So I don’t know for sure. What I do know is, it’s not an exact science.”

Watson, obviously, is right. If his 48 score were predictive of his NFL production, Watson would have better statistics than Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. Ryan Fitzpatrick would be the next Joe Montana.

“Does a higher Wonderlic mean you’ll perform better on the field? It might, or it might not,” Watson said. “A person’s football ability might be totally different than their ability to score high on an aptitude test.

“I mean, I understand why the test is there. They want to have some type of standardized benchmark. They want to compare, and keep everyone on the same level. But when you look at it, a Wonderlic score doesn’t have as much to do with football as your film does in college and your body of work.”

37 responses to “Wonderlic maven Watson talks importance of test

  1. It depends on the position… Some positions require smart players… In other positions like DB you want a player who will play his role and not be too “smart” and independent

  2. “Does a higher Wonderlic mean you’ll perform better on the field? It might, or it might not,”

    That quote reminds me of the episode of “Cheers” when Same did a guest role as a local TV sports anchor.

    “So Sam, what are you saying?”

    Sam: “I guess I’m saying I could go either way on it”.

  3. It may or may not mean success on the football field but it can mean success in life – if – athletes take advantage of the free scholarships thrown their way. Student athletes are lucky. Everyone else, on the other hand, drowns in debt just trying to obtain the education they take for granted.

  4. I think a high wonderlic score says more about the player off the field than it does on it.

  5. @justasecond1

    Your conclusion on who to blame is at best misguided. LSU reported annual football revenue of $69.4 million in 2009-10

    The most important question is how can a kids who are obviously at a minimal functionally illiterate get accepted into college and then pass enough classes to remain eligible? This is why I laugh when you all are outraged that a kid accepted a few bucks from a college. The truth is the kid should never have been accepted in the first place! He’s not going to get an education……HE CAN’T or can barely READ! I’m sorry, but, these colleges should be sued for educational fraud.

  6. Someone posted the other day that Rod Woodson scored a 9 on the Wonderlic. I don’t know if that’s true. But Rod Woodson had a brilliant, Hall of Fame career as a corner, safety, and return man. He was one of only five then-active players named to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team. He was an asset to his teams, both as an exceptional athlete and as a positive influence onfield and off for younger players.

    After football, he had a successful broadcasting career, and is now embarking on a coaching career. I’ve heard him interviewed many times and always appreciated the intelligence of his remarks. He’s never been in trouble and has a stable home life. If Rod Woodson is an example of what you get with a low Wonderlic score, give me a busload of players just like him. Sounds to me like that test isn’t worth diddley.

  7. On the flip side, Ben Watson clearly sounds more intelligent than most athletes interviewed.

  8. I think it’s useful as a measure of native intelligence.
    With the fact that dumb people do dumb things more often than bright people in mind, knowing who the idiots are can be helpful.
    But it has no bearing on the ability to catch the ball or tackle….

  9. Lets put it that way.

    People with a high score don’t necessarily have better carerrs than those with low scores, but that might just be a correlation with overall talent.

    Or, a high score and thus high IQ will help to apply all talents of a player and help to develop all his abilities in a better way than a player with a low IQ.

    Tom Brady without his football talent wouldn’t be as good if he just would have to rely on his IQ, but Bradys talent PLUS a high IQ make him a HoF QB and possibly one of the best ever.

    Conclusion, a high score or high IQ is an enhancement or a boost of the talents a player already has.

  10. The dumber the jock the better, could help keep the damage awards down on the concussion suits. “Even though we turned your brain into mashed potatoes, dude you got a 4 on your test, so here’s the $29.95 you could have earned outside of football…”

  11. Don’t understand the issue of keeping these scores a secret. Wouldn’t it be more encouragement for a college player to actually get a good education if some measure of that were displayed, along with his athletic ability. It’s called life.

  12. @lucky, that’s an interesting point. I do think having a good wonderlic is important for a QB. That said, Bledsoe’s wonderlic was actually higher than Brady’s (they were both in the 30s though, which is what I would want from my QB). 🙂

  13. @ KIR

    Wow, dude. You bag on education and college accountability by submitting a post that borders on being unintelligible. BRAVO!!! Well done, sir.

  14. Dumb athletes get by on talent. And that fades after a couple years. Smart ones can use their talent and intelligence to make themselves more productive and valuable. Is it any wonder that Belichick is the guy that drafted Watson?

  15. I am not so sure teams are concerned with average to above average scores and whether it is indicative of superior football skills. All things being equal, they probably want an idea of mental prowess. Perhaps what teams are REALLY concerned with is the extremely LOW scores and whether it is advisable to bestow millions and millions of dollars on even an immensely talented player in that scoring range. It’s the BASEMENT, not the CEILING scores that coach Jimmy J. was referencing regarding his mistakes in his player choices. It is the basement dwellers that teams will double and triple investigate prior to signing.

  16. Ok, Ben Watson. In the Leauge for 8 seasons, 32nd pick in 2004 NE Patroits, was cut and been with Cleveland Browns two seasons. Two seasons 5 TD. Hmmm. But he scored high on the Wonderlic. Should have been a fighter pilot instead. The test proves nothing, except your a good test taker.

  17. The test is just another measuring tool. Just like the 40 time and 225 lb bench press. Smarter people tend to make better decisions most of the time and are more capable of learning. Understanding game situations is an underrated part of the game.

  18. What the players don’t get is that isn’t an IQ test, nor a knowledge test….

    Its a test of basic reasoning and problem solving that tries to answer the question: how good will this guy be at learning the stuff we want him to between games?

    10 times out of 10, the guy that can study what’s presented to him and turn that into action on the field will be better than the guy with the same athletic ability….

  19. It’s interesting that each person who’s commented on this article so far has not displayed an obvious learning disability, unlike those who generally comment, on this and most other sites.

    One guy did use your instead of you’re, but I’m pretty certain that’s the only error I saw during my admittedly cursory scan, and that’s a really common mistake.

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned Spygate.

  20. The Wonderlic might be a gauge of a moral compass. If talent is equal who do you pick, a guy who got a 28 or a 4? Higher aptitude usually means better values. Thus, Ben Watson provided a better locker room presence than say Pac Man or Matt Jones. Gates and Gonzalez may have scored well too. I’m not saying a 28 has better scruples than a 26. A wide disparity throws up a red flag though.

  21. Players with lower scores are more likely to have off field issues than players with high scores. Something tells me we won’t read about Ben Watson or Ryan Fitzpatrick punching a stripper or pointing a gun at someone’s face.

    Furthermore, a player with a lower score may have a shorter attention span. You just have to look at the player, the position they are playing, and what you are asking from them.

  22. Ok, Ben Watson. In the Leauge for 8 seasons, 32nd pick in 2004 NE Patroits, was cut and been with Cleveland Browns two seasons. Two seasons 5 TD. Hmmm. But he scored high on the Wonderlic. Should have been a fighter pilot instead. The test proves nothing, except your a good test taker.


    What it better predict is maturity, locker room presence, and also I bet Watson will have a decent career after sports, something which these other meatheads probably won’t. So in the end his lifetime earning potential will surpass the dumb jocks who beat him on the field for 5 or 6 yrs that an average playing career lasts. Kudos to him.

    BTW surpass means to go beyond or exceed for you wonderlic underachievers..

  23. Fact is over half of all draft picks are busts. So the question is would you rather have an intelligent guy who may be able to take on different roles than initially expected, is smart enough to be versatile and at the very least can contribute as a leader, presence in teh locker room or teacher.

  24. It may not translate to football aptitude but I feel that it certainly translates to intelligence. Take Watson’s quote for example. When is the last time you heard a NFL player speak so eloquently and intelligently? Compare that to some of the completely unreadable and non-sensical crap we see spewed from other NFL players.

  25. The Wonderlic isn’t about how well you can play football. They have enough game tape and physical data to tell them that. What the Wonderlic does is test our baseline intelligence. Who you are and how you conduct yourself as a person and as a professional is very important to these teams. They want to know if you’re going to be Ronde Barber or Pac Man Jones. That matters. And that is the window they’re trying to get a glimpse into through the Wonderlic.

    All these articles about the Wonderlic as it pertains to football prowess are pointless, because that’s simply not a reason that test is given.

  26. Patriots fan, and big Ben Watson fan. I was sorry to see him leave N.E., (even though we are pretty stacked at T.E. now.)
    I’ll never forget him chasing down Bailey vs. Denver on the long interception return. Turned a really crappy play into something to remember.

  27. The Overtime Sports Talk Show says: Apr 8, 2012 6:01 PM

    The test proves nothing, except your a good test taker.

    People who fare poorly in academics desperately want this to be true. It’s not.

  28. @besdayz
    …. Yes that’s exactly why an NFL team want is to draft a player who scored high, on the WannaLick my ass test, because it doesn’t matter if that prospect is productive for five or six years on the team, just as long as he has a long and successful career after football that is all that matters.
    And another blogger chimed in and praised how everyone is civilized and intelligent because there’s no miss spelling or the wrong usage of you’re over your and blah blah blah ..,
    So many intelligent people in here, but yet so dumb!!! (Deb you do know I am not including you in this, because you know that I live you right?)
    When do intelligent people start making so many off the wall assumptions?
    “lower scores tends to equate into higher risk of locker room problems, etc…,”
    YOUR the very elitist that I hate! Snubs and elitists are what your are!
    “he’s a country boy, don’t really know much, what out for him because he might steal something from you.”
    While your are all assuming this and that about Claiborne, whether he will be trouble or not, or whatever negative view you may have.
    Have any of you looked up or searched any studies done on the success and failures of pass players?
    Put a hundred players in each categories: low scores between 1-15, mid-range scores 16 – 31, and the high scores 32 – 50.
    Examine how well they did in their football career and professional life after football.
    Also examine which group caused the most problems while playing in the NFL and after.
    Then examine the overall conditions of their personal life, are the people who are scored higher happier and lived a more full filling life ( that doesn’t mean just because they have a nicer house and more money, but instead measure the number of divorce and etc..,)
    There’s a bunch of things I can list to examine but I believed your intelligent people got it.
    With all that said I will take Claiborne on my team any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Going ahead and stand on your high horse and poke fun of my boy Mo because he doesn’t care, unlike you he won’t put people down.
    Check out his football records and then check out his arrest records and all that, then you can start spewing you hates !! F$@king ELITISTS.

  29. I am pretty sure if I work for any organization and am in charge of hiring someone that will cost my organization 6 to 7 figures, I am going to turn over every stone.

    Every time someone bombs it, we have to hear this garbage.

    Quit being babies and shut up already. If it made zero difference, the NFL would not have them take it. It is not the first rodeo of the NFL.

    This tired argument is so boring. Maybe larger studies should be done on those scores and relate it arrests? To drugs? To fights? To second and third contracts? To weight problems?

  30. And another thing. If you are afraid to speak of poor scores by players, then quit identifying certain players as “smart” “cerebral” “heady” “intelligent” etc.

    The Wonderlic is one tool and it is used all over the world. Deal with it.

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