The Wonderlic test is an intelligence test administered to prospective draft picks in order to assess their performance under pressure, and provide insight as to future NFL player intelligence and performance. The test consists of 50 questions to be answered in only 12 minutes, and was designed so that only five percent of participants who take the test actually manage to complete all 50 questions before time runs out. The test assesses a person’s mathematical, reasoning, and vocabulary skills, while offering a series of short scenarios in which test-takers are tasked with finding the right answer under severe time constraints. In doing so, prospective draft picks are put under pressure to complete as much of the test as possible before time runs out, forcing them to rely on their core skills and intellect to navigate difficult problems, and apply logical solutions to complex scenarios. While all players that are accepted into the NFL Combine have a lot to bring to the table with respect to physical prowess, a few also possess the key mental faculties necessary to transform into legendary players, and key pillars of the team, which is what the Wonderlic test hopes to accomplish by assessing prospective NFL player intelligence and reasoning.
Dallas Cowboys Head Coach, Tom Landry, first used the Wonderlic as an NFL player assessment test to predict player performance in 1970, and the test has remained with the league ever since. He believed that if it had the ability to help the United States Navy assess a prospective candidates’ performance within a given role, it could help NFL coaches do the same and ease the burden of placing players in the best role for their skillset. In 2009, a study led by Brian D. Lyons confirmed a negative correlation between player performance in certain roles, and scoring highly on the Wonderlic test. Such conclusions often lead officials to consider players with scores not too far from the median, since scores on either extreme can indicate the potential for conflicts with authority, or issues with one’s ego getting in the way of their cooperativeness. Overall, the Wonderlic has served as a reliable pre-NFL, and NFL player assessment test, which has helped coaches across the nation place scouted players in roles that utilize their skills best, allowing the sport to grow into a much more excitingly strategic endeavor than previously thought.
Many people wonder about what test NFL players (and pre-NFL players) take to help fit them with a team. The Wonderlic test is the one that prospective NFL players face before being drafted, and in today’s data driven world, it is helping speed up the process of placing player within their perfect role, and predicting their success within said role. It allows scouts to assess a player’s ability to successfully make difficult decisions time and time again, under pressure from an invading defensive/offensive line, with the roar of a stadium masking a charging players footsteps, and players running in and out of cover around scattered opponents. When you consider how much has to happen in the first three seconds of a play, it’s no wonder why franchises (and their coaches) want to know how their favorite draft pick will do in situations they’ve never experienced before, when there is a lot at stake, and their decision may decide the fate of the team at a championship.
When players arrive at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, they are tested on their ability to perform on the field, run a 40-yard dash, leap to incredible heights, and catch players in awesome displays of agility and strength. However, if they are soon to be included in a team with other elite athletes, it is important that everyone know how to communicate and anticipate one another’s actions, since a single play can evolve as it is being run, coaches must rely on their player’s intuition to carry them through moments of confusion and difficulty. There is a subtle correlation between the strategic significance of a player’s position, and their score on the Wonderlic test. The highest scoring positions in the NFL are Offensive Tackle, Center, Quarterback, and Guard, which also happen to be the more strategically important positions within a team. If a team’s Quarterback and Center are bad at communicating their intentions, or a Guard has a hard time deciphering how an opponent plans on invading their defenses, the team as a whole suffers.