How important is the Wonderlic test?

A.J. Green (Scout.com)

How will the Wonderlic test affect this year's draft class? If history serves as any indication, no one truly knows.

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The NFL draft is rapidly approaching and soon teams across the league will go on the clock to make those ever so important decisions.

General managers, coaches, scouts and other team personnel will be tasked with finding the next generation of stars set to jump to the professional ranks. Several factors go into the decision-making process, not limited to game film, combine performance, private workouts and yes, the Wonderlic test.

With the fifth overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals will likely have a couple of different avenues to travel when the draft commences this April.

A handful of players consisting of Von Miller, Patrick Peterson, Robert Quinn, A.J. Green and Blaine Gabbert will be taken under consideration, providing they're still available. Additionally, thanks to a deep group of defensive linemen, Arizona may instill a best player available mentality if its primary targets are already off the board.

The Wonderlic test, famous for testing the ‘smarts' of draft prospects, will certainly be a part of the evaluation process.

There are plenty of claims to confirm and contradict the significance of the infamous exam. Vince Young scored a six on his first go-around in 2006 (he later scored a 16). Young hasn't exactly panned out as a former third overall pick.


JaMarcus Russell
(AP Photo)

On the contrary, JaMarcus Russell – arguably the biggest draft bust of all time – scored a respectable 24. We all know how that turned out, cementing the draft's status as one of the most unpredictable events in sports, the Wonderlic test included.

So how will the Wonderlic affect the Cardinals draft prognosis this year? Maybe it won't, but based on coach Ken Whisenhunt's background as an intelligent guy, it could help him and the rest of the team's brass ultimately decide on the future pillars of the franchise.

Peterson, who many consider to be the most talented and safest pick in the draft, scored a nine on the Wonderlic. While Peterson's physical attributes can't be denied, his ability to keep up with the mental side of the game might now come under question.

Due to his low test score, Peterson might not be the best candidate to make his way to the desert. But that's not the only thing working to his disadvantage. New defensive coordinator Ray Horton plays a zone heavy scheme. Along with Peterson's potential difficulties of absorbing zone responsibilities, his strength of playing in man-to-man coverage will go unutilized.

Green, considered the top receiver in the draft, fared slightly better – managing a score of just 10. Whisenhunt runs one of the more complex offensive schemes in the league, requiring receivers to make reads based on what they see from the defense. Green's low test score doesn't bode much confidence that he could do that effectively on a consistent basis.

2011 Quarterback Wonderlic Scores

Greg McElroy   43
Blaine Gabbert   42
Christian Ponder   35
Ricky Stanzi   30
Andy Dalton   29
Ryan Mallett   26
Cam Newton   21
Jake Locker   20
If Arizona is going to draft a quarterback, it might be time to scratch names such as Cam Newton and Jake Locker off the list.

Although their Wonderlic scores weren't horrible, Newton (21) and Locker (20), they were trumped by a handful of prospects that have better game film and can be had later in the draft.

Christian Ponder (35), Ricky Stanzi (30), and Andy Dalton (29) are part of a group of signal callers currently treading in the second to fourth round territory. Greg McElroy (43) led the quarterbacks but remains a late-round prospect. Gabbert did his part with a 42 and another notable quarterback prospect, Ryan Mallett, scored a 26.

Every NFL team wants smart players, but they also want players who'll perform on the field. Only time will tell how the Wonderlic translates to this year's draft class but if history serves as any indication, the results will be a crapshoot.


Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com


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