Do we really need to know Wonderlic scores?
Answer: 40. Does that qualify me to play in the NFL?
Morris Claiborne is a terrific football player.
The 22-year-old cornerback from LSU was a consensus First Team All-America pick, was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and won the Thorpe Award presented to the best college defensive back in the country. Over the last two seasons, he defended 12 passes and intercepted 11 more.
After excelling on the gridiron during his career in Baton Rouge, Claiborne performed admirably at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis as well, running a 4.5 40-yard dash, and recording a 34.5-inch vertical jump.
Claiborne remains the top defensive back prospect in this year's draft class and will likely be selected in the top five or six picks on April 26.
So why, pray tell, must we know if Claiborne correctly answered a question similar to the one at the beginning of this column? Does that affect his ability to play football? It certainly didn't at LSU.
Pat Dooley, a writer at the Gainesville Sun (interestingly, a newspaper in a rival SEC town) tweeted that Claiborne recorded a score of 4 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test, which is given to prospects at the scouting combine. It's the lowest Wonderlic score ever recorded.
Now, by a simple reporting of fact, Claiborne will at least be dogged by the "dumb" label the rest of his career. The number four will be subconsciously pinned to his jersey like a sort of scarlet numeral.
Low scores have not acted as a deterrent for teams to draft certain players. University of Texas quarterback Vince Young famously scored a 6 in his first crack at the Wonderlic, and he was still selected third overall by Tennessee in the 2006 draft. Dan Marino got a 15 back in 1983, was still drafted in the first round by the Miami Dolphins and went on to have one of the most storied careers of any quarterback in league history.
And high scores haven't been an indicator of success in the league, either. In 1998, Ryan Leaf scored a 27, six points better than average. And he's proven, even well after his playing days, that he's one of the biggest boneheads ever to put on a helmet.
In other words, this test doesn't mean anything in terms of how a player is going to perform at the highest level of football. The point being, individual teams have been armed with the information on players' scores and have the final say on whether or not to draft them.
Early in my media career, I had the pleasure of working with Mike Golic, who's now of course half of the popular Mike & Mike Show on ESPN Radio. Golic also enjoyed a colorful 8-year career in the NFL and was part of one of the most feared defensive lines in history with the Philadelphia Eagles in the mid-90's.
He talked frequently about his father's advice to him when preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine. "Do they have a bench press at the 50-yard line on Sundays?" his father would ask. "Then, don't worry about it."
The same can be said for the Wonderlic. And maybe Morris Claiborne had that attitude when he took the test. Maybe he didn't prepare for it. Or maybe, he just botched it.
Whatever the reason, it's not fair to Claiborne or others to have their test results leaked or reported -- especially when they're not even football-related.
Football players play on Sundays. Intelligent quotient and problem- solving skills still aren't the deciding factors in whether or not a rush end can win a one-on-one matchup against a left tackle or be able to run stride-for-stride with an All-Pro wide receiver.
I'm not saying that teams shouldn't issue the test and have access to the results. It's their money, and they should be able to use as many methods as they can to determine whether or not to employ a player.
Why must these test scores leak out publicly? Do they even matter?
But there are certain things that the general public and the media don't need to know about when it comes NFL Draft prospects.
Their Wonderlic score is at the top of that list.