I scored a 40 on my test, the same as Alex Smith. This means I should be the next first overall pick in the NFL Draft, right?
OK, that might be a bit of a stretch, being that no one is drafted off of their Wonderlic Test score and the only game film scouts are going to find of me is from a Turkey Bowl two years ago.
The Wonderlic Test is given annually to participants as part of the NFL Scouting Combine. The combine is a weeklong showcase of players. Many call it running and jumping in underwear. Despite the lack of clothing, players are given the opportunity to perform physical and mental tasks in front of NFL executives and coaches.
I halfheartedly watch some of the combine, not with the intent of grading players based on performance, but because of the lack of football in the last few weeks has left me a fiend for it.
I sometimes get the impression that NFL coaches and executive are doing the same thing. The combine is interesting, but little else. Measuring how high a guy can jump in no way tells you how he can play football.
The physical tests and drills they go through are designed to showcase their physical abilities, yes, but football is a game where those tools don’t always translate into on-field production. Most NFL prospects jump at the chance to wow scouts and fans at the combine, and showing off one’s supreme athletic talent is nice, but it does not always transition to a good NFL career.
Ever heard of Justin Ernest? Me neither. As a player out of Eastern Kentucky, Ernest set a combine record at 51 reps on the bench press in 1999. He was not drafted that year and didn’t exactly have a stellar NFL career.
A great athlete can wow at the combine and also have a good career. We all remember Bo Jackson, but do you remember that he ran the fastest 40-yard dash time in combine history? In 1986 Bo ran 4.12 seconds, an absolutely unreal time. It’s fair to say “Bo Knows” fast.
I’m in no way saying that the combine can’t give useful information. I just think the physical abilities the athletes show don’t mean a whole lot when it comes to whether they can play football or not.
The players also have the opportunity to sit and interview with prospective teams, and let them know about them as a person. I would expect that the old adage that you only get one chance at a first impression stays true here. The interview process is so much more beneficial to both the athlete and the team than any of the physical tests.
Lastly, the players take the Wonderlic Test. It is a popular group intelligence test that is said to help prospective employers gauge problem-solving and learning abilities in the test-taker. Once again, the usefulness of this test is questionable, because, like I said, I scored a 40, which is pretty good. That makes me good at football, right? Wrong.
This test and the entire combine is made up of different measures for NFL bigwigs to try and make the best decision when investing millions into a draft pick. It makes sense to have as much information at hand as possible when making such a decision.
However, the majority of the NFL Combine seems more like a dog-and-pony show — where the best in show is often rewarded with a huge NFL contract.