New Combine test is aimed at leveling the playing field

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More details are emerging regarding the new test that will be administered at the Scouting Combine.  But still not enough to allow the players who’ll be taking it to skew the results by preparing for it.

Cyrus Mehri, co-founder of the Fritz Pollard Alliance who with Johnnie Cochran prompted the NFL in 2002 to launch the Rooney Rule, helped develop the new exam.  And while Mehri has yet to directly say anything negative about the Wonderlic, a 50-question exam developed in the 1930s and adopted by the NFL in the 1970s, it’s clear that Mehri believes the Wonderlic is, for modern purposes, less than wonderful.

“These guys are making these multi-million dollar decisions, and in some regards it’s like they are walking into a dark room with a flashlight,” Mehri told Jarrett Bell of USA Today.  “This is going to turn on the lights.”

Mehri said that the 60-minute computerized test “kind of levels the playing field from a socio-economic point of view.”

The test was developed with the input of multiple NFL executives.  “A lot of guys may be very intelligent, but are not as book-smart as others,” Mehri said.  “Someone may not be the best reader, but they can still be very smart in picking up things.”

Players will still take the Wonderlic, primarily because the NFL wants to be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons between modern players and players from past years.  Perhaps the new test will take on far more meaning, and the Wonderlic will become an outdated ritual like saying “Gesundheit” after a sneeze and “excuse me” after a fart.

Um.  Excuse me.

37 responses to “New Combine test is aimed at leveling the playing field

  1. This is one of the best things to happen to the NFL in a while. I think you’re really underestimating the power of this information. Where this is really going to level the playing field is between teams who were already measuring this stuff on their own and those who were clueless.

  2. I heard that to test the validity of the new exam they had Vince Young take it.

    He scored an L for effort.

    The new test was deemed accurate.

  3. “Perhaps the new test will take on far more meaning, and the Wonderlic will become an outdated ritual like saying “Gesundheit” after a sneeze and “excuse me” after a fart.

    Um. Excuse me.”

    This has Pulitzer Prize written all over it.

  4. In other words…
    This test is dummied down, and uses more pictures.
    Pretty sad that anyone who got a free ride through college would not be ‘book-smart’ to some degree after 4 years…
    Good luck with that.

  5. Tests like the Wonderlic should really just be used as “smoke tests”, just making sure nothing is completely broken there.

    You’re not going to meaningfully compare a guy’s 31 score versus another guy’s 25. The point is just to set off red flags when your potential top 3 QB prospect scores a 6… and then a 16 when he gets a second try.

    In trying to “fix” the test, they should be sure that they don’t ruin its already-limited usefulness. It should be thought of more like medical examinations – you’re just making sure that the brain is intact and relatively functional, not really trying to measure intelligence.

    Although if they can really achieve a worthwhile intelligence test, more power to them.

  6. Heaven forbid that they have a test that accurately points out what a bunch of imbeciles so many pro athletes really are.

  7. It would be great if they released some trial data to back up the claim that it levels the playing field…….

  8. If someone who goes through all of high school and a minimum of 3 years of college and still bombs the wonderlic, that should be a red flag. Its not a matter of them not being “book smart”, but could be viewed as someone who didnt put in a basic effort to apply themselves and learn something while in school.

    Not saying they have to ace the test, but if someone like Vince Young puts up a 6 on the test, then it at a minimum can show that he put in virtually no effort to learn anything while in school and could be an indicator of poor work effort and study habits when jumping in the NFL.

  9. I’ve taken the wonderlic. It literally has noThing to do with book smarts. Most questions are basic math or word problems.

    Rope costs 10 cents per foot. You have 60 cents. How many feet of Rope can you buy?

    I would call it a cognitive ability test. There is nothing like, who was the 20th president, or what are the units of a newton. Those are book smarts questions.

    Granted some questions are hard and take time. But part of the test into know you have to skip the hard ones, finish and prioritize the remaining questions. Only… Maybe 5 out of 50 take a lot of thought.

  10. This is like trying to help the slowest win a footrace, but changing the distance.

    At the end of the day, the fastest guys will always excel in a footrace.

    How exactly are they going to change that ?

  11. So if not enough soon to be pro athletes can get a decent score on the wonderlic this is an indicator of an outdated test that is unfair to certain socio-economic groups? Whats unfair is that society has lowered the bar so much that some athletically gifted people get a free pass on education because we don’t have faith in them to succeed outside of sports and therefore don’t receive a proper education. We value athletes to the point where we give them a pass on education and you end up with students of prestigious universities who can tie their own shoes but can’t spell shoe. Where would we be as a society if we valued brainiacs the way we do jocks and gave the mathletes a free pass on gym class instead of sending people to universities that don’t have the sense to not bring a loaded gun to an airport? I love football and I love America but our priorities are backwards.

  12. Insider info…question 7. One gang member has 4 crack rocks another has 2. If both gang members smoke 2 rocks and sell them at street value what is their profit margin?

  13. Has anyone been able to demonstrate a correlation between Wonderlic or similar type test scores and success on the football field? If not, then where’s the value in these kinds of assessments? Until someone can also devise a metric to measure the immeasurables, like the intangibles of a sixth-round draft pick like Tom Brady or Wes Welker, who was undrafted in 2004, I’ll continue to believe that some of this stuff is about as reliable a predictor of success in the NFL as throwing dice.

  14. The new test includes real life based questions such as:

    Vince has $50,000 and wants to throw a $150,000 birthday party. How much will Vince need to borrow at 30% interest to throw his party?

  15. Its about time, making those poor guys take the MCAT just to play football was not a level playing field.

  16. “A lot of guys may be very intelligent, but are not as book-smart as others,” Mehri said. “Someone may not be the best reader, but they can still be very smart in picking up things.”

    Translation: “Good news, graduates of football-factory schools who never went to class! We’ve designed a test for you!”

  17. Affirmative action for the nfl..the dumbing down of our society and making it easier for minorities to do well on tests. In nyc the fdny and nypd have down the same thing with to get minorities to perform better. Of course this has not increased better results. Pretty soon all performance tests will be thrown out. I am sure the nfl is thinking the same thing if this doesn’t work out. No wonder our country is in the state.that its in.

  18. Is there testing where they show drafters something like some game film from the NFL? Like all LB’s see the same clips…here’s the formation pre-snap, what do you think you see? What do you think your responsibility would be? The draftee could be way off, but wouldn’t that be a decent, empirical approach to at least trying to predict football instincts?

  19. So they’ve come up with a “test” that can be passed by guys that have attended college for three or four years yet can barely read or speak english.
    Great. What a sham the whole test process is.

  20. It’s incredibly embarrassing for the league and the NCAA that guys who are required to attend college for three years return scores that reveal borderline illiteracy.

    It’s not relevant, but then, neither is a “core curriculum” for someone like JaDeveon Clowney, who has a set of skills that can earn him millions of dollars.

    This new test could be a tool, but it could also be a PR move. I’m sure teams will continue to weigh or not weigh the Wonderlic. Personally, I think the test is culturally biased. Look at Vince Young and Dez Bryant! both guys scored a 6 the first time around, and both are proven winners and pillars of their respective communities!

  21. I’ve taken the wonderlic test. It is not a substantive content-based examination. The questions are very simple. It tests cognitive function and the ability to think and organize in a very fast manner. If any player, even those who have reportedly scored in the low single-digits, did a minimum amount of preparation, I don’t see how it is possible to score less than 20.

  22. What a fantastic idea. Most of these players from rural and ghetto areas didnt have the chance at a proper education like access to top professors, special tutors, free books. Oh wait.

    This test will still expose mental midgets like Vince Young and illiterates like Morris Claiborne. Perhaps the NCAA should investigate the “universities” like those in the SEC.

  23. One of the questions was just leaked:
    “Jamal has a ten round magazine in his gun. While he’s up in the club he shoots three bullets at the man he found out is sleeping with his boo. Jamal then runs 40-yards to his get-away car. How many bullets are left for Jamal to shoot while driving away? How fast did Jamal sprint to his get-away car?”

  24. You guys are pretty ignorant. More data is never a bad thing, and I’d bet a good bit of money it turns out to be meaningful data. And you can’t just look at simple correlations (If A then D). You have to look at if A AND B then D or if A AND C then E.

    If this had been introduced 10 years ago, Russell Wilson would not have ever made it to the 3rd round last year. The NFL has a lot of catching up to do with regard to the psychology of the game, and this is a very good start.

  25. Why doesn’t the NFL just get rid of the farce of having some of these guys attend college for no reason? Sure, they love the free farm system, and the NCAA loves the money, but why should we all pretend that some of these players are really educable when they are not?

    The NFL needs to set up some type of semi-pro system to develop players that have no reason or desire to attend a university. They could get coaching and develop physically before being draft eligible two years out of high school or age 21, whichever comes first. It would be the equivalent of a trade school rather than an institution of higher learning.

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