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PREVIOUS SPORTS
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Immeasurable Commitment: Wonderlic Scores
March 26, 2009

PREVIOUS SIDELINE NEXT SIDELINE

As we prepare for the NFL Draft (one month today, folks), we draft nerds gather all the heights, weights, and timings from the combine and college pro days. But one set of statistics not making the rounds — theoretically — is the Wonderlic score of players, the combine equivalent of a voluntary IQ test (though voluntary in the sense that running a 40 time is voluntary). Dead on cue, some numbers have been leaked.

The Wonderlic scores are supposed to be secret, forwarded to select personnel only on NFL teams. This is confidential data, not for the consumption of the general public, presumably on the basis that football players don’t like being called thickies.

Having perused the leaked scores year after year (an annual tradition so regular it makes you wonder why they’re secret in the first place), the numbers again confirm a trend I’ve noted over the years: that quarterbacks and offensive linemen tend to average better scores than receivers and cornerbacks. Now, this doesn’t mean receivers are dullards and linemen are geniuses — it would be ridiculous to conclude that, on average, guys who are 195lbs and 6–foot–1 are less smart than guys who are 300lbs and 6–foot–6. What I do think is happening is the guys on the outside know that a gaudy 40 time or outstanding vertical leap will knock some flunked IQ test into a cocked hat, and perhaps don't try all that hard.

So is the Wonderlic relevant? I say ‘yes’, but as a psychological tool, useful for cross–checking suspicions some teams have about how a player prepares. The Wonderlic won't make you a better football player any more than playing Sudoku or Scrabble, but these things are an expression of mental agility that can be prepared for, and with some disciplined practice, better scores can be achieved.

It doesn't surprise me that OT Andre Smith’s reported Wonderlic is unimpressive while WR Jeremy Maclin scored twice what some other receivers managed. Andre Smith clearly wasn't physically prepared for the NFL combine, so why should we suppose he was prepared mentally? And alongside Maclin's test score, I note one scouting report observing progress in Maclin's route–running at the Missouri pro day.

The connecting theme is commitment to preparation. Maclin's moving up my board, Smith is moving down.

When it comes to the speedier positions, I'm not going to take too much notice of a low Wonderlic, because some of these guys have been riding their God–given talent all of their lives — just turning up and playing was enough in high school, and their high–end speed was enough to outdistance much of the opposition in college. They're not going to see that some 'If John has three apples...' questionnaire has a whole lot to do with them now.

Problem is, in the NFL, everybody is fast. Small differences matter. IQ tests don't matter, but preparedness does. Players who prepare in all phases of the game succeed in the NFL. If I see a physically–talented receiver or defensive back who cares enough to prepare even for the Wonderlic, I see someone who takes care of the little things, who goes the extra mile.

To me, preparing for a written test when your physicality alone has your family picking out Porsches tells me you are not going to be a bust.

When it comes to the NFL combine, I don't care much for the measurables — none of them. I've already seen the candidates playing football, and a tenth of a second here and a quarter of an inch there isn't worth a thing in some sterile, stopwatch environment. We know these guys can play football. For the cameras, the NFL Network conveys the impression that the teams care deeply about the stopwatch. But what teams are really interested in finding out is whether the players are healthy, can communicate in interviews, and show an interest.

A high Wonderlic is called 'showing an interest'.




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