Ordinary college students cannot be expected to run faster than NFL prospects. They can’t be expected to put up more chest press reps than a blue chip left tackle. They can, however, still take the Wonderlic test.
With the NFL Draft days away, several URI students took the challenge themselves to compare themselves to NFL stars, and to see how tricky this test really is.
The official test of the NFL Combine, the Wonderlic Test, has been used to measure prospects for years. The timed test allows for a maximum of twelve minutes to answer fifty questions used to measure the cognitive ability of players. The test should not to be overly difficult for players. These prospects are declaring for the draft after spending time at a university, after all.
Available for free online, I was curious about the test. I had heard of record low scores of 4 (out of 50) being documented, and even Ivy Leaguers struggling to obtain a perfect score. The range of scores is immense. Former Patriot tight end Benjamin Watson ranks near the top of the list of participants. Vince Young answered forty-four of the fifty questions incorrectly. Without taking the test, it’s tough to know how everyday people would fare.
I wanted to figure out how everyday people would do. How they would stack up to the greatest football players of the modern era. To give a fair playing field compared to the NFL players, I asked several college students and recent graduates who hail from the Ocean State to take twelve minutes to attempt the same cognitive ability test that Tom Brady was only able to get a sixty-six percent on.
The thirty participants all have some sort of link to education in the state of Rhode Island. Many of the current students and recent graduates went to high school in the state and have attended the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, Bryant, or Johnson and Wales for at least two years. Others went to high school in R.I. and went to out of state schools, while some attend local colleges after graduating from out of state high schools.
The fifty questions aren’t the same on every test, which helps prevent cheating. Many of the questions are really basic. With common sense questions, basic math and vocabulary most people would anticipate a high score.
Anyone is capable of doing well on the test. From people taking it, the consensus discovery was it is not difficult. Some of the questions required a little thought, however, most of the fifty questions could be answered easily if asked.
There was one added element however. The clock. With twelve minutes to answer the fifty questions, each multiple choice selection had to be determined in (an average of) less than fifteen seconds. The pace seemed to be the problem.
Jake F, a Lasalle Academy graduate who currently studies business administration and accountancy at Auburn, scored an almost perfect score on the test. Only former punter Pat McInally has ever recorded a perfect score amongst NFL players. Jake’s 49 was the highest of the study. He felt the test was easy, but could understand where the problems came from for other people.
“The test wasn’t too hard, the spatial questions that involved having to fold the cube in your head gave me some trouble. Time constraint is the biggest factor for most people I think.”
Other people mirrored Jake’s statement, citing time as a potential factor that could cause problems. Christian M, a Cranston West graduate and URI sophomore, found the questions to be relatively simple as well.
“There were a lot of easy math and common sense questions. The only difficult thing was the timer, which makes sense for players having to make smart decisions on the field, but I don't think it should be considered too strongly in the draft process... or else I would be a first round pick.”
Christian claims everyone who scored above his 41 cheated.
He also touched on something very important. What is the point of the the test for NFL players. With their average being lower than the public average of 29/50, many of them do not fare too well, but still move on to have very successful careers. However, the timer does make it difficult, and players need to be able to respond quickly on the field when the pressure is on. Particularly at some positions.
Rumors are swirling around New England that Tom Brady’s next successor will be selected early in Thursday’s draft. Brady, who’s Wonderlic score of 33 barely surpassed the average of my participants 32.25, is known to be one of, if not, the best player in the fourth quarter when the pressure is on. Quarterbacks need to be able to react quickly to things that are basic for them when they face adversity. If the guy under center cannot do basic math when he has a timer, can he be expected to march down the field by outthinking a defense?
Of the five quarterbacks who are projected to be first rounders this season, only one scored above the average score of college students with links to Rhody that participated in this test. Josh Allen’s 37 led the pack, followed by other scores below 30. Only one score was concerningly low.
Lamar Jackson, of Louisville, only scored a 13. No modern NFL starting quarterback has a score lower than that mark. Jackson has been linked as a potential qb to succeed Brady.
Does the Wonderlic matter? Maybe. Maybe not. College students from the ocean state with no chance of making the NFL thought it was easy, and did better than the average NFL player. You can take the test here.
Be sure to listen to Psycho Sports Tuesday night at 6 (and then available in the past-casts) as Tyler and Michael Parente from the official newspaper of the New England Patriots- Patriots Football Weekly- preview the draft with guests close to the team.