The relevance of the Wonderlic test to a player’s football ability remains uncertain at best, and the inability of the NFL to secure the results justifies the refusal by players to take the test. (None have, yet.) Ideally, the league would get rid of the Wonderlic entirely, given the extent to which low scores often result in the shaming of players who take the 12-minute, 50-question test as part of a high-stress, little-sleep excursion to Indianapolis. (I’ve been guilty of that in the past, but I’ve since sworn off the practice of either trying to get the numbers or making light of those who didn’t ace it.)
Until the league scraps the test, someone will be reporting on the numbers, and certain aspects of the scores will be newsworthy.
Each year, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel obtains and discloses the scores. This year, each of the 12 incoming quarterbacks ranked by McGinn secured at least a 20 on the test.
Leading the way was Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya (pictured) with a 34. Here are the rest: Nathan Peterman, 33; Trevor Knight, 30; Josh Dobbs, 29; DeShone Kizer, 28; C.J. Beathard, 26; Mitchell Trubisky, 25; Davis Webb, 25; Patrick Mahomes, 24; Chad Kelly, 22; Jerod Evans, 21; Deshaun Watson, 20.
So what does it mean? No one really knows, which is all the more reason to get rid of the test. In past years, Hall of Famers like Terry Bradshaw (16) and Dan Marino (15) struggled. Jeff George had a 10.
On the other end of the spectrum, Blaine Gabbert racked up a 42, Alex Smith scored a 40, Eli Manning got a 39, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck and Tony Romo managed 37s, Aaron Rodgers scored a 35, Tom Brady scored a 33, and Johnny Football arguably was, at least for a day, Johnny Wonderlic, with 32 correct answers.
Again, it’s impossible to make any sense of the scores as it relates to eventual football skill. So if the league is looking for ways to better “respect” the incoming players, a gesture that would be easy, clear, and strong would be to eliminate the Wonderlic test from the Scouting Combine — and to instruct all teams not to conduct their own versions of it.