Three individuals form a partnership and agree to divide the profits equally. X invests $9,000, Y invests $7,000, Z invests $4,000. If the profits are $4,800, how much less does X receive than if the profits were divided in proportion to the amount invested?
It's almost NFL Combine time, which means we will again get to debate why we consider questions like the one above to be relevant to the the success of future NFL players. The Wonderlic test was established in 1936 by E.F. Wonderlic and has been used for decades to assess and measure a variety of skills in math, vocabulary, and reasoning. It is used to determine potential job placement in a number of positions, including future NFL players. The test was brought to the NFL by legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry as part of his evaluation process and because of his coaching success, was adopted by other teams. The Wonderlic is one of the more bizarre inputs into player evaluation. The test consists of 50 multiple choice questions that must be answered in a 12-minute time limit. A score of 20 (equivalent to an IQ of 100) on the Wonderlic suggests average intelligence. The average score differs though for positions in the NFL, with tackles and centers scoring the highest average at around 25-26 and the lowest average score being running backs at 16-17. For comparison, the average Wonderlic scores for a sales position are around 24.
The question of whether the test is a valuable input into determining future performance has been studied academically. One study showed that the only positions with any statistically significant correlation with their performance in the NFL and the Wonderlic score were tight end and cornerback, however this was a negative correlation, that is a higher test score was actually correlated to a lower performance as an NFL player. There is also no shortage of examples that show that the test may not be the greatest predictor, Ryan Fitzpatrick had one the highest scores ever at 48 but is a turnover machine with limited arm strength, Johnny Manziel was the highest scoring QB at last year's combine and then promptly put up two of the worst QB starts in history. Sources inside the NFL have stated that it can actually hurt your draft stock if you score too high with coaches being worried about players being too intelligent, meaning they won't accept authority figures. Similarly as you will see from the following list, there are plenty of NFL stars who didn't fair so well in the test. The scores from the test are intended to remain secret, although many have leaked. This list is some of the lowest scores from some very prominent NFL players. These 10 lowest scores will show why the effectiveness of the Wonderlic is questioned.
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11 Terry Bradshaw, QB - Score: 16
The low test score didn't stop Terry Bradshaw from becoming one of only three QBs in NFL history with four Super Bowl championships and accumulating a 14-5 playoff record on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Despite the low score Bradshaw was taken with the first overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft and the Steelers were glad they overlooked the test as he went on to become one of the most iconic Steelers of all time. Bradshaw is one of many examples where teams chose to ignore the score of the test and used high draft picks on the player regardless, calling to question why there was any test in the first place. Bradshaw has also gone on to have a successful broadcast career.
10 Dan Marino, QB - Score: 15
Quarterbacks tend to score higher than most positions on the Wonderlic, averaging around 23-24 and it is definitely the position where intelligence is considered the most important. Marino may be considered below average by that standard but proved throughout his career to be anything but average. The Dolphins Hall of Fame QB threw over 61,000 yards and 420 touchdowns during his 17-year career. Marino held numerous passing records including touchdowns in a season and yardage, until only recently being passed by names like Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Drew Brees. Although never winning a Super Bowl, Marino consistently led the Dolphins to the playoffs as one of the best players of his generation. Many of today's best quarterbacks, including Manning, have cited Marino as one of their favorite players.
9 T-8. Jeff George, QB - Score: 10
Jeff George was the first overall pick in the 1990 draft and had an inconsistent and largely disappointing career. While George did put up nice seasons with both Atlanta and Minnesota, both with a QB rating over 90, he never reached the potential that his legendarily strong arm had afforded him. George would still go on to have a solid 12-year career reaching the playoffs multiple times with different teams as the starting quarterback.
George was plagued throughout his career with poor decision-making, throwing 113 interceptions throughout his career. Its unclear whether the Colts should have seen the disappointment coming based on his Wonderlic score, but with recent high picks like Blake Bortles and Blaine Gabbert, it seems that the unpolished, big-armed QB will always have a place in the early rounds of NFL draft.
8 T-8. A.J. Green, WR - Score: 10
It's difficult to know how much teams really care about the test scores but based on Green's low score some scouts said that "A.J. won't reach his full potential. It's hard for dumb receivers...". Other unnamed scouts had said they believe that Green, 6-foot-3 ½ and 215 pounds, will overcome any perceived lack of smarts, if he is not rushed or overloaded. There was no need to worry about rushing Green who became Cincinatti's no.1 WR the day he stepped on the field, putting up over 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns as a rookie. Green has started his career with four straight 1,000 yard seasons and has cemented himself as one the best receivers in the league.
7 Sebastian Janikowski, PK- Score: 9
Somebody should give the intelligence test to the Raiders management that used a 17th overall selection (that's right - in the 1st round) to select a place kicker. One of the few times where it would be have be a good decision for a team to use the Wonderlic as a reason not to draft a player.
Despite the fact that using a high draft pick on a kicker is always a bad decision, Janikowski has become one the NFL's best kickers, with one of the strongest legs in NFL history. He held the record for the longest field goal (63 yards) until recently and unfortunately for the Raiders, continues to be one their best players. During pre-game warm-ups Janikowski has been seen hitting 70-yard field goals, or so the legend goes. The Wonderlic would seem to be even less effective than usual for evaluating kickers as they're job is to perfect a routine, not read and react.
6 Patrick Peterson, CB - Score: 9
Patrick Peterson is an athletic phenom that makes up for lack of technique with sheer strength and speed. The low Wonderlic score hasn't stopped Peterson from inking one of the largest contracts for a defensive player ever, five years for $70 million, with $48 million guaranteed. Peterson was selected fifth overall by the Cardinals and has made three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams already in his young career. Peterson is also one the best kick returners in the league holding the record for most punt returns for a touchdown in a season with four and has discussed playing some snaps on offense.
5 Tavon Austin, WR - Score - 7
Tavon Austin has had an up and down start to his career, showing flashes of the speed and quickness that made him the 8th pick in the 2013 draft. The Rams drafted Austin to be a multi-purpose weapon that could help Sam Bradford develop. His electrifying kick return ability has remained as he made the Pro Bowl this season for his efforts. He continues to develop as a receiver although his yardage total has regressed since his rookie season.
The Rams have struggled to find ways to best use Austin's talents, at times inexplicably running him on power plays out of the I formation. Austin is a solid candidate for a breakout season if the Rams can get consistent quarterback play and an offensive coordinator that recognizes his talents.
4 Kelvin Benjamin WR- Score: 7
One of the young receivers that made this past year's rookie class of receivers the best in a long time. The Carolina Panther proved that sometimes overwhelming athleticism is enough to succeed in the NFL. While Benjamin isn't a polished route runner and had a significant amount of drops, he showed potential this season to be a no.1 or at worst a high-end no.2 receiver. Benjamin finished the season with 1,000 yards and nine touchdown catches as Newton's no.1 option. The Wonderlic may be a useful input but Benjamin proves that you can't teach 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and top end speed.
3 Vince Young, QB - Score: 6
After one of the most impressive victories in college football history, the Titans took Vince Young 3rd overall in the NFL draft. Young had one of the more unique careers in recent NFL history, peaking very early while fading out of the league right as he approached what should have been his prime. Young managed to win Offensive Rookie of the Year leading the Titans on numerous dramatic game winning drives and also Comeback Player of the Year just two seasons later. Young was selected to two Pro Bowls early in his career and looked poised for a long career.
His reliance on running the ball and inaccuracy throwing the ball caught up with him as it became clear he was not going to develop into a consistent passer from the pocket. While some may look to the Wonderlic score and see signs of this to come, team evaluators were better off looking at his throwing mechanics to realize his glaring weaknesses.
2 Frank Gore, RB- Score: 6
A prime example that the Wonderlic evaluation method has some flaws, Frank Gore has had a long and successful career that may put him in the Hall of Fame when all is said and done. Gore has run for over 11,000 yards and 64 touchdowns in his 10-year career, showing more durability and longevity than many running backs. Gore suffers from dyslexia so the format of the test and time constraints were likely very difficult. Gore should be praised for overcoming his learning difficulties, attending college, and creating a successful career in the NFL.
1 Morris Claiborne, CB - Score: 4
The Dallas Cowboys dismissed Morris Clairborne's low score when they traded up in the 2012 draft to select him 6th overall. The young cornerback from LSU has shown flashes but has largely struggled early in his career and missed most of this season due to injury. Clairborne quite famously declared his disdain for the test after opening it and not seeing any questions about football. Clairborne also struggled with a learning disability that may make these type of tests difficult and reportedly only answers a few of the questions. There's still time left for Clairborne to rejuvenate his young career but so far he's looked like a bust.
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