As NFL hopefuls are measured in time and distance on national TV at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, there is another, much less open test these players have to endure: the Wonderlic Test. Kent Babb took a look at all sides of this controversial test, including a chat with the test creator’s grandson.
“From our perspective,” Charles Wonderlic says during his drive to Indianapolis to administer the test, “it’s very meaningful. It isn’t as though it’s a question of yes or no. It’s a question of, ‘How much?’”
But there remain flaws within the system, and that contributes to the controversy that keeps Eldon Wonderlic’s creation alive and relevant. Many prospects’ supposedly confidential scores are made public each year, most notably five years ago when University of Texas quarterback Vince Young reportedly scored a 6, a number so low that it often suggests literacy problems or learning disabilities. That score was refuted, and Young later scored a 16.
Charles Wonderlic says that about a quarter of the leaked scores are incorrect, but whether they’re false or not, damage is often done within public opinion. He says the Wonderlic Company scores the tests from the combine, then sends the results to the NFL, which then distributes them to teams. Each team’s decision-makers then see a copy, he says, and from there, it’s difficult to maintain confidentiality because the more eyes are on the results, the higher the likelihood of leaks.
My issue isn’t with the test itself, after all it’s just one more piece to the puzzle. Just as you shouldn’t completely discount a player because he doesn’t impress in the broad jump, tanking on the Wonderlic isn’t the end of the world either.
The problem I have is that the scores aren’t publishes for every prospect, the same way every other measurement at the combine is made public. So instead of everyone being measured the same way, you only get certain scores leaking out, with no way to know for sure if they are accurate.
If the NFL really believes that the Wonderic should be a part of the draft process — which clearly they have and still do — then post the scores right along with 40 times and reps on the bench press.