The Wonderlic Test; potentially one of the most useful measures of determining intelligence, yet also one of the most controversial. While the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test is used by thousands of employers, it is most notably known for its use at the NFL Draft Combine. The test is made up of 50 multiple choice questions designed to be answered within 12 minutes. The Wonderlic test is used to determine the learning and problem solving abilities of perspective employees, whose scores are then compared against each others.
The Wonderlic test has all the feelings and guilt that you would associate with any other standardized test, such as the ACT and SAT for college entrance. A score in the low-mid 20s is considered to be of average intelligence, while many NFL prospects average in the higher 20s. Wonderlic claims that a test score of 10 is a baseline for being literate, definitely a score you would want to beat if you took the test. For some positions at the NFL Combine, there is little importance placed on such a silly test, and there are a lot of prospects that simply choose not to take it. Think about it; would you care how much practical knowledge Jadeveon Clowney has, or do you just want to see him rip a quarterback’s head off?
I’m assuming if you were a GM you would prefer the latter. However, it can be useful for those positions that need a little more cognitive ability, such as quarterback. While a good score could potentially help your draft stock, a bad score would probably do a lot more to change your standing. If you took the test and bombed it with a 12, some NFL teams may be a little more hesitant to sign you, especially if you are a QB.
The following is a list of the top 10 most notable Wonderlic scores from the NFL Combine throughout the years. If you are interested in seeing sample questions of the exam, feel free to search for a sample on quiz online to compare your scores with what some of today’s top NFL players have scored on their tests.
10. Peyton Manning – QB – University of Tennessee -Wonderlic Score: 28
Even though Peyton has been known to be one of the smartest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, his practical knowledge may not be so sharp. There is no doubt that he can identify blitzes and coverages, but he actually scored a slightly higher than average score on his Wonderlic test when he took it in 1998. Think 28 is a good score? His little brother, Eli Manning, wasn’t too far off. In Eli’s 2004 Wonderlic test, he actually scored one point higher than Peyton, whether or not he really is the smarter sibling is still highly debatable though.
9. Richard Sherman – CB – Stanford University – Wonderlic Score: 24
The now infamous Richard Sherman has been called everything in the book ever since his NFC Championship game rant against San Francisco 49er Michael Crabtree, including things I can’t even repeat. As a graduate of Standford University, Sherman is certainly not dumb, in fact he is far from it. Sherman’s Wonderlic score does not show that though, as he scored a 24 which is pretty average. Maybe it was nerves, or maybe he just didn’t care too much, but Richard Sherman has shown that the Wonderlic test doesn’t really give a real representation of one’s intelligence.
8. Michael Crabtree – WR – Texas Tech – Wonderlic Score: 15
During the 2009 Combine, the former Texas Tech standout WR had a lot on his plate, but his Wonderlic score did little to help GMs decide if he was really first round material. Scoring a less-than-average 15, Crabtree‘s score technically shows little more than that he is capable of reading a book. The 49ers gambled on his lack of intelligence and it seems to have paid off. In his five NFL seasons, Crabtree has scored 22 touchdowns and has 3,600 receiving yards.
7. Dan Marino – QB – University of Pittsburgh – Wonderlic Score: 15
The Wonderlic test spares nobody, whether you are a Harvard graduate or a community college scholar. Unfortunately for Dan Marino, it didn’t help him that he only scored a 15 on the test which heavily devalued his draft stock. Thankfully for him and the Miami Dolphins, Marino was smarter than the sack of rocks the Wonderlic test pegged him as. As a result, he went on to throw for over 60,000 yards and 420 passing touchdowns, although he never won a Super Bowl. In the case of Dan Marino, it does go to show that not all success can be based off the standardized test.
6. Frank Gore – RB – University of Miami – Wonderlic Score: 6
One of the absolute lowest test scores of all time comes courtesy of Frank Gore, the 65th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami. Whether it was because he simply didn’t care or that he really isn’t that good at tests, Gore failed miserably. Technically, Gore shouldn’t even be able to read a book, but I’m going to go ahead and assume he can. The 49ers weren’t scared of his test score and so far it has paid dividends for the team, as Gore has 60 touchdowns and nearly 10,000 rushing yards in his nine NFL seasons.
5. Ryan Fitzpatrick – QB – Harvard – Wonderlic Score: 48
It should be no surprise to anybody that some of the highest recorded scores on the Wonderlic test come from those players out of Harvard. Fitzpatrick wowed GMs at the 2005 Combine. It was reported originally that he had achieved a perfect score with still three minutes left on the clock. Later, it would come out that he left a question blank, giving him an overall score of 48 which is still exceptional. The high test score didn’t really help his draft stock too much, as he was drafted in the seventh round. However, even if his career fizzles out the way it has been going lately, his score of 48 will probably keep him in the record books for years.
4. Benjamin Watson – TE – Duke/Georgia – Wonderlic Score: 48
As one of the highest scores ever, let alone out of all tight ends, Benjamin Watson has cemented himself in the record books as being one of the “smartest” tight ends in the NFL. Even Watson has admitted that the test means very little, stating that some teams place a lot of emphasis on it while others hardly any. Either way, Watson scored an almost perfect score and he has had a nice little NFL career since being drafted in 2004. He is currently a member of the New Orleans Saints and was a member of the New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship team in 2005.
3. Kevin Curtis – WR – Utah State – Wonderlic Score: 48
After being drafted in 2003, there were a lot of people that had high hopes for Curtis as a member of the St. Louis Rams. However, his almost perfect score on the Wonderlic test couldn’t predict that he would be victim to the injury bug while playing in the NFL. Curtis’ best season was in 2007 as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, but he could never get on track at any of his stops around the league. He left the league in 2011, after recording just 252 receptions and 20 touchdowns in his eight NFL seasons.
2. Mike Mamula – DE/LB – Boston College – Wonderlic Score: 49
As one of the first players to ever train specifically for the NFL Draft, a strong showing at the Combine helped Mamula’s stock rise in 1995. Mamula benched 225lbs 28 times, had a 38 inch vertical, and posted a near perfect Wonderlic score, helping him to be drafted seventh overall in the 1995 draft. Unfortunately for him and the Philadelphia Eagles, he never panned out and he retired from professional football in 2000. He finished his career with just 209 tackles and 31 sacks.
1. Pat McInally – P/WR – Harvard – Wonderlic Score: 50
It should be no surprise that the only NFL prospect to ever score a perfect 50/50 on the test came from Harvard. McInally was drafted in the fifth round by Cincinnati Bengals in the 1975 NFL Draft and he played his entire career with the organization. As a punter, he had a 42 yards per punt average and even recorded five touchdowns on 57 receptions as a wide receiver. He played nine seasons for the Bengals and made the Pro Bowl once. After his retirement, McInally went on to become involved with many youth sporting organizations, promoting positive and encouraging practices and development for young athletes.
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