Prospects should refuse to take the Wonderlic

Getty Images

For years, the NFL has shown that it’s ultimately unable to secure the Scouting Combine results of the Wonderlic test, an outdated, irrelevant intelligence exam to which the league clings because, well, it was like that when I got here.

While PFT has abandoned the practice of tracking down and reporting the numbers for a variety of reasons, it’s impossible to ignore the annual leaking of key scores.  Last year, it was Johnny Manziel and other quarterbacks whose Wonderlic scores were leaked to and reported by the NFL itself, through its in-house media conglomerate.  This year, the leak landed with Yahoo! Sports.

Regardless, the NFL continues to fail every year the one-question test regarding its ability to secure the results of the Wonderlic test.

For that reason, prospects should simply refuse to take the test. And here’s the script next year’s Scouting Combine attendees should use:  “Sorry, sir. I choose not to take the test. You’ve told me that the results are private and confidential, but every year the scores for one or more players are leaked to the media. So the only way to reliably secure my own test result is to not create one.”

It’s a boycott that needs to begin with the top prospects whose draft stock won’t be affected by refusing to take the test. As more and more players join, more and more will feel emboldened to decline the Wonderlic test.

The NFL won’t get rid of the Wonderlic test because the NFL resists change like that 85-year-old guy whose unused microwave is still flashing 12:00 repeatedly.  So it’s time for change to be forced on the NFL, by the players who are expected after playing college football for free to freely submit to any and all poking and prodding and scrutiny in the name of a job interview only slightly less invasive than the exploratory aspects of an alien abduction.

91 responses to “Prospects should refuse to take the Wonderlic

  1. Don’t report the scores, just report rankings. Perhaps randomly put everyone into a half-dozen groups, then only show the rankings within the groups. That way can never say who had the lowest.

  2. I guess its a bad thing to test for intelligence. Yet you hear that players are very bright or intelligent…..based on what?

  3. If players performed better then there wouldn’t be any leaks.

    Employers who will pay employees over $500k, have EVERY right to do this test before an offer is extended, in the NFL’s case when a team drafts a player.

    Why is the media so against the NFL’s rights to protect itself from dumb football players?

  4. The NFL does not resist change. If anything, they have shown they are open to and invite change. They consistently are looking to innovate. While it doesn’t always agree with everyone, they are open to change like no other business.

  5. Yeah, it’s really unfair to subject the prospects to any sort of objective measure of cognitive performance. Although imperfect (as are all things) the Wonderlic was found to be useful for decades.

  6. Great post, and hope this happens. It’s a shame the NFL’s incompetence has now passed responsibility onto draft prospects to create necessary change.

  7. Real story is Jameis Winston got a 27 on the Wonderlic and confirms he is indeed smarter than his perceived actions. Who knows if he can tone it down off the field but as long as he’s not committing a crime, who cares? He’s better than any quarterback prospect from last year or next year. Kid can make NFL throws with touch to the seam and corner and has great football awareness and toughness. As a Pats fan I’d be more scared than I’d like to admit if he went to the Jets.

  8. Can’t see this happening. Players have more to lose by abstaining than performing poorly. Won’t change u til a player drops in draft order for scoring low.

  9. In other words, Jameis Winston’s leaked score this year proves that he is actually intelligent. This contradicts all of the “character assassinating” that we, the media, have done. For this reason, it is in everyone’s best interest to skip this test in the future to protect us, the media, from future embarrassment.

  10. It’s only the dumb players who get a below average score who should refuse to take it. Manziel did himself a lot of favours by getting a comparatively high score. His agents probably would’ve leaked it if someone else didn’t.

  11. “The NFL won’t get rid of the Wonderlic test because the NFL resists change like that 85-year-old guy whose unused microwave is still flashing 12:00 repeatedly.”


  12. Everyone fill in letter “B” on the scantron and turn the test in within the first minute. It’s not like 90% of these guys were ever real students to begin with. That illusion needs to end. If you’re scouting department can’t get a grip on a guys general intelligence, what good is the Wonderlic?

  13. Yes, refuse to take a simple test from a potential employer that is ready to pay you millions of dollars. Makes absolute sense doesn’t it?

  14. Really? Its just a test, it’s not the end all be all of when they will be drafted (i.e.Jamarcus Russell), then why would you really have that negative of a feeling because they take an intelligence test (it could help a least a tiny bit if they are intelligent). Plus we see them succeed or fail on a huge scale every football weekend but they should be concerned that someone finds out they scored poorly on a test because their scores leaked? Does that hurt there feelings or something? I mean honestly, I bet they couldn’t care less.

  15. Jim Kelly and Dan Marino both got 15’s on their Wondrlics and both are Hall of Famers.. yet.. both never won a Super Bowl and every top QB today .. Has a Wonderlic over 30..

  16. If I’m an NFL exec, and you refuse to take a test during your interview… “Well, WalMart is hiring. Have a nice life”.

  17. I actually had to take the Wonderlic… for Culinary School. I was so shocked. After reading all the PFT material on this I was like, why on earth is this relevant? I scored a 24. it is one of those tests where they try to trick you with clever word play but doesn’t actually gauge your intelligence or knowledge so I just skipped anything that wasn’t immediately apparent. In the culinary field you have to put up with nonsense all the time so I chalked it up to one of those things some Chef thought was a good idea that I had to keep my mouth shut about.

    I see even less relevance to football, where you need to learn plays, something that requires tons of memorization, by the time you are in a game, it’s muscle memory after intense study, reactions based upon preparation. The Wonderlic is totally pointless.

  18. One could argue that combine and pro days and e-players and coaches “working out prospects” should end too. Gruden and Marriui with QBs, Irvin with WRs. It’s ridiculous and overkill.

  19. Hmm…., so you’re choosing to word it as “because I’m playing college football for free” whereas it should mostly be worded as “I was given the OPPORTUNITY to go to college for free” since I am willing to bet at the very least 80% of these kids were given Scholarships. In which case I think it’s very OK to ask any one of the kids to take this test regardless if one or a few of the scores are leaked every year. They were given an opportunity 100s of thousands of kids would gladly Do 100X more in the drop of a second for! All because they played football well. Whereas how many of those scholarships could’ve gone to kids in any number of fields/majors that will actually contribute excessively to this world. I think it’s only fitting and insanely fair to ask every single one of them to take the dang test, regardless.

  20. Just because you don’t understand how teams use the Wonderlic doesn’t mean they should get rid of some form of standardized intelligence test. One can’t use a few outliers of super high or super low scores as reason for making generalizations about the test. As for boycotting it, that’s absurd when your potential employer demands the test. Do you want to be seen as a renegade and trouble maker befit even setting foot on the practice field? Teams and GMs have long memories.

  21. A liquidated damages provision in the ostensible “confidentiality” representation would help matters, no? Put your money where your mouth is, Roger.

  22. No I kinda like it. The wonderlic scores should be fully disclosed. Was it Vince Young who scored in the low single digits? Yes it is a viable gauge

  23. eeh, don’t think they’re smart enough to do that.

    Give ’em the Wonderlick to find out….

  24. The predraft process is a farce, and standardized testing on athletes doesn’t begin to make sense.

    Thanks for standing up and making reasoned statements on issues in the league. Some things can’t be defended anymore: the Rword, the legacies of Joe Paterno and Bill Cosby and Darren Sharper, intentional blows to the head, the ridiculous qb friendly combo of no hi or low contact and almost no contact on downfield receivers.
    Thanks Mr. Florio for pointing out some of the forward thinkers, Lombardi, George Marshall, Steve Sabol.

    Sorry Washington fans, Braves, Chiefs, Indians, aren’t negative and ralcist. Your team name has got to go.

    Florio for comissioner!

  25. Debate the relevance of the test, but to refuse to take it would not go well for anyone looking to get drafted. For every person that thinks the player is taking some righteous stand 10 will view it as a negative…what does that player have to hid? why are they scared to take the test? etc.

  26. Nope. We need more asinine pre-draft talking points, because none of it is annoying. More means of dissecting prospects’ character, talent, and intelligence, please.

  27. “I refuse to take the wonderlic test”

    “That’s ok, you don’t have to play in the NFL if you don’t want to. Let me get you a sharpener”.

  28. Bitter much? Standardized tests are an imperfect measure of football talent, no doubt. But any more imperfect than # of consecutive bench-press reps performed?

  29. You describe the Wonderlic as an outdated and irrelevant intelligence test, but it is still an indicator of intelligence. Yes, it’s not perfect and the results should definitely not be leaked, but I wouldn’t scrap it.
    Thumbs up to keep the test. Maybe the NFL could do more to understand how the results get leaked every year and to address the culprits (sounds like a job for Ted Wells) but I’d keep the test.

  30. Maybe the players should take a wonderlic to see if they can actually go to college seriously how in the heck do you get in if you can’t even pass a simple exam.

  31. I agree its a stupid test… However, there’s a point to be made here in response to the writer’s attitude about the test-
    “Kid, if you want this job, you have to take this test. If you don’t want to take the test, you can’t play in this league.”

    Draftees are trying to get a job with a team, and should expect to do what they’re told. Even if it’s dumb. Owners decide, not prospective employees.

  32. Yes, because there is no such thing as intelligence. And even if there were, we would be all equally intelligent. Yay, equality!

  33. The sport is about dedication anyway which a test result cannot show. I’d compare it to someone like myself getting money for college from the state with a 2.75 GPA just because I had a 24 on the ACT

  34. What makes physical measurements require zero confidentiality while mental measurements must remain private? And is the Wonderlic less relevant and more outdated than running 40-yd dashes in underwear?

  35. The NFL should just release the results publicly. That solves the problem in a rather elegant way, I think, but the NFL doesn’t want us to know how stupid these players are.

  36. Too bad the nfl didn’t have such a staunch resistance to change regarding tackling receivers, blocking, extra points, kick offs, hitting the qb…etc

  37. So to prevent from proving the former “student-athletes” can barely read, just scrap the whole thing. It’s like acting like an NFL organization doesn’t have a team name to please 4 people…

  38. I’ve never understood what value this test has to anything football related. Some of the best QB’s in the NFL have done poorly on the test and it hasn’t mattered at all.

  39. The only way this will work is if the NFL allows players to sue for a breach or find a resolution for any leak via collective bargaining.

    Leaking is likely breaching an agreement and a breacher shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

  40. They should offer to take the test, contingent on the NFL assuring privacy by putting a deposit in escrow, to be released upon the first media leak. At least give them the option and make the NFL pay for the absurd violations of privacy.

    Yet another example of the NFL trampling anyone in their path

  41. Why is it ok to judge someone’s speed, agility and strength but not their intelligence? Why is it so insulting when a low wonderlic comes out, but a bad 40 time that would probably be more career limiting is fine to publish.

  42. Here’s the reason prospects should refuse to take it: A couple college professors (Lyons & Hoffman) found no statistically significant positive associations between Wonderlic scores and NFL performance at any position. In fact, there was a statistically significant negative association between Wonderlic and performance for DB and TE.

    Speaking as someone who scored 1580 on the SAT and 1500 on the GRE, why would taking a 12 minute pop-quiz of arithmetic and word problems ever have anything to do with football success? That’s determined by work ethic, grit, and perseverance in addition to athletic ability. Book smarts don’t make you a better football player, trust me on that.

  43. The Wonderlic is a simple intelligence guage. Your premise of refusal is ridiculous. Every year someone tests positive for drugs and that data gets out too. Refusal to take that test would serve the same principle but with much different results. Every player agrees to go to the combine with full knowledge of the procedures. Full participation ought to be mandatory and pro days should only be for those that were not invited to the combine. If they chose to not attend they shouldn’t be evaluated at a pro day. I really don’t get the anarchist attitude and bucking the rules that seems acceptable today

  44. It is one of many tools teams use to decide when and whom to draft. Just because you don’t like it really doesn’t matter.

  45. Unless you got an organized effort for a bunch of players to refuse, don’t you think one lone player refusing the test would look like a drunk driver refusing a breathalyzer? One lone player would get raked over the coals for refusing and people would assume he is an idiot.

  46. Here are some arbitrary Wonderlic scores of past, present and future QBs. Certainly doesn’t appear to mean much in trying to gauge how successful a quarterback will be:

    Jameis Winston (27)
    Marcus Mariota (33)
    Peyton Manning (28)
    Drew Brees (28)
    Russell Wilson (28)
    Joe Flacco (27)
    Ben Roethlisberger (25)
    Andrew Luck (37)
    Aaron Rodgers (35)
    Tom Brady (33)
    Philip Rivers (30)
    Ryan Fitzpatrick (48)
    Alex Smith (40)
    Eli Manning (39)
    Colin Kaepernick (38)
    Johnny Manziel (32)
    Tony Romo (37)
    Jay Cutler (26)
    Robert Griffin III (24)
    Tim Tebow (22)
    Dan Marino (15)
    Blaine Gabbert (42)

  47. I agree with Florio in this. Draft prospects are told it’s private and in a short time the entire planet knows the results ? Not right

  48. Conversely, an athlete could also be smart enough to do well on the Wonderlic and be glad to take the test and have the scores released.

    I’m not sure how an intelligence test can be deemed irrelevant, especially a timed one that puts pressure not only on one’s ability to reason and calculate but also to do it quickly.

    For what it’s worth, I have taken the Wonderlic and it seems to me about as relevant as most other scouting combine events.

  49. Honestly, I believed the same thing you believed Mike that these scores shouldn’t be leaked. But then, the scores of Morris Claiborne was leaked, and they were horrible. That should have been a red flag for teams initially. Then the Cowboys traded up for him, and lost a 2nd round pick that year. He so far has been nothing short of a BUST. I am now in favor of those scores being released if they take them because teams should take those scores seriously if they considering drafting a player, especially high. Do I care if my CB or QB can find derivatives in variables? No. But the test could show me, that one the player is intelligent enough to think critically, diagnosis and process information. More importantly, I could use those results to potentially analyze if the player I am investing in has the mental capacity to become a student of the game.

  50. Refuse to take the test and don’t get drafted. The one thing you can’t fix is stupid.

    And the one thing a moron can’t stand is you questioning his fractional intelligence.

    As Knute Rockne said in 1905 “Football is a game played with your arms and legs but mostly above the shoulders.”

    That still applies today.

    I wonder how may sportswriters could score above 20 on the Wonderlic?

  51. With the money these teams are investing and
    The pressure to have any insight…they can test
    Whomever they wish. Most people I know
    Are given all sorts of tests for all types of work.
    Take the test, and take the check.

  52. Agreed, the Wonderlic measures nothing related to football. If it did, then only the best scorers would excel in the game.

    If it has relevance, then report the scores by the Hall of Famers and prove it.

  53. Hey I took the test last week and got 100%.

    But can someone come out here and set the clock on my microwave? I need help!

  54. I agree, but try refusing to take the test and see what that gets you in the eyes of GMs across the league in advance of the draft.

    It’s all part of the dog-and-pony show; if you don’t go through all of it then you get labeled as arrogant. It doesn’t help your image in the eyes of potential teammates either.

  55. Or we can just make the results public right away. Everyone knows that the Wonderlic is not a perfect or complete measure of intelligence and doesn’t tap into football intelligence. I’m not even sure how well it correlates with football success and so why not just release the results? Maybe that would encourage players to study for the test a little more and improve their results.

  56. We should all see the scores. They want them kept private because it exposes what a fraud the concept of the “student athlete” really is. These football players coast through college, somehow get a degree, yet can’t correctly answer “What is the average of: 12, 15, 23, 10” on the Wonderlic Test.

    So if we all see that college football players are not actually students but just employees of the universities, the whole racket might end.

  57. Stephen Hawking would ace it, resulting in the Browns taking him at QB in the 2nd round. “Some unemployed astrophysicist really recommended him!”

  58. Fitzpatrick scored a 48 and Marino scored 15? I think that sums up all you need to know about the wonderlic concerning QBs

  59. I’ve always said if a person wants a million dollor idea, incorporate the quick decision making aspect of the test into football scenarios because then that would be worth something. As it is, the Wonderlic is useless with guys like Dan Marino having low scores to go with Hall of Fame careers, but people like Johnny Manziel scoring off the charts to go with mediocre ones. It’s just indicative of knowing how to take standardized IQ-type tests.

  60. I never seen a football player take a math or spelling test on the field. Can the guy play??? Film is the only test I need to see….I’ve played with plenty of guys who weren’t the brightest but could read a defense and know formations by sight.

  61. “The NFL won’t get rid of the Wonderlic test because the NFL resists change like that 85-year-old guy whose unused microwave is still flashing 12:00 repeatedly.”

    Lol, this is a gem of a line. Keep em coming.

    Why I think it speaks volumes about the student/athlete and the institutions of higher learning that they attend. Why only make available physical results and not the mental? At the same time these scores should not be the be all end all either.

  62. jjackwagon says:
    Apr 15, 2015 9:54 AM

    Fitzpatrick scored a 48 and Marino scored 15? I think that sums up all you need to know about the wonderlic concerning QBs.


    Actually, it MAY give insight as to why Fitzpatrick’s not as much of a success. He may be overthinking on the field instead of letting himself play. It may be an indication that ‘Too smart can be a hindrance to game play’

  63. dallasdominates,

    And I think AJ Green had a similar bad score out of that same draft, and to my knowledge, he doesn’t have a documented learning disability like Morris Claiborne has. One guy’s a stud, one guy’s a bust; however, their Wonderlic scores had nothing to do with it since I think we all would agree playing receiver much more complicated in the NFL than playing DB. The w
    Wonderlic is a standardized test, and beleive it or not, some people are good at taking them just like some people are good at writing essays, excel in a 1-on1 job interview, etc. They need to pay somebody to come up with a general football IQ test for these players to take, because this Wonderlic thing isn’t indicative of anything to do with playing football.

  64. Florio,

    So far, has any player or ex-player sued the NFL or media for releasing their Wonderlic score?

    What happened to that other test that Cyrus Mehri had developed back in 2013?

  65. How about we just give each player a “Test Participation” Trophy and forget about the score results. Would that be better?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.