Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Wonderlic test, revisited

As you know, the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test is a standardized intelligence test developed by an industrial psychologist named Eldon F. Wonderlic. It has been in use since the 1930s. An assortment of industries have used this test to gauge the potential of employees for positions and advancement. It is most famous today as the sole gauge of intelligence potential for NFL prospects invited to the annual combine.

You get 12 minutes to answer 50 questions. For each question you answer correctly, you score a single point. For each question you miss or fail to answer, you get zero points. The maximum score possible is 50, if you get them all right. The minimum score is zero (0), if you bolo every question. The objective is to place time pressure on a candidate and see how fast the individual in question can process data and a question and arrive at the correct conclusion. The faster you can process the data, understand the question, and arrive at the correct solution, the better your score should be. The higher your score, the more intelligent we presume you are.

Does this test matter to a football player? Many say the answer is yes. Many say that the significance of this test varies by position. Most focus on the quarterback position, declaring that the QB is the nerve center of the offense. This is the man who must process information lightning quick, understand the problem being posed to him by the defense, and make the right decision about where to put the football. Most agree that this is the one position where the Wonderlic score matters most.

A whole bunch of research has been done on the ultimate career outcomes of NFL Quarterbacks, given their Wonderlic scores. A lot of very interesting results have sprung out of that research. Let me give you a few examples:
  1. The average score for a starting Quarterback in in the NFL 25.
  2. It is difficult to reach the Super Bowl with a QB who scored less than 28.
  3. Given two teams in the Super Bowl, the team whose quarterback has the highest Wonderlic almost always wins. This happens even in extremely unlikely circumstances such as Super Bowl 42. Eli Manning scored a 39, and Tom Brady scored a 33, respectively.
All of this brings me to the point I wanted to make in this blog. Aaron Rodgers scored 35 on his Wonderlic test. Ben Roethlisberger scored 25 on his Wonderlic test. Of course, the Packers won and the Steelers lost. It should be noted that Rodgers did outperform his counterpart by a considerable margin. Do you think he's smarter than Ben Roethlisberger? Do you think he outperformed Ben Roethlisberger because he is the smarter guy?

I think the answer is pretty cut and dried, Yes.

Many would also look at the issue of accuracy. As so many have observed, a passer's accuracy is of primary importance. If he can't put the football where he wants it to go, all the size, strength, speed, toughness and smartness in the world won't matter. A quarterback must be accurate.

It should be noted that Aaron Rodgers is a far more accurate passer than Ben Roethlisberger. Rodgers just might be the most accurate passer in the league right now. He can put a bullet through a momentary fracture in space-time before you have noticed it exists.

All of this brings me the second big point I want to make in this in this blog entry. You know, my Rams just happen to have a young quarterback who scored a 36 on his Wonderlic test last year. he also happens to be an extremely accurate passer. Most authorities say Sam is one of the most accurate passer in NCAA history. In a year or so, he just might be challenging Aaron Rodgers for the accuracy crown.

As many have correctly observed, the Packers are loaded. This may only be the first of a series of championships for them. They are set up for 3 or 4 great seasons in a row. They may well become the dynasty of this new decade.

I want to give a word of encouragement to my fellow Ram-fans. If we do what we have to do in this draft, and if we don't fuck it up, we just might be contending with these Packers sooner rather than later. In a few years, the NFC may come down to the Packers vs. Rams, and that could happen several times in a row.

What do we have to do to get there? Well, I'll tell you about that.
  • We need an absolutely deadly receiver like A.J. Green
  • We need an ultra-behemoth Guard, like Carl Nicks of the Saints
  • We need an elephant linebacker of the tweener variety. We need a guy who is too runty to be a defensive end, and too big to be a linebacker. There have been scores of these dudes in NFL history, and they are always the most destructive defenders on the field, despite the fact that you can have them for bargain prices. Our last great elephant linebacker was Kevin Greene, now seen coaching Clay Matthews. Kevin was our 5th round selection in 1985. He was also my favorite player in the world for a long time. We need another guy like him.