Do we really need to know Wonderlic scores?
Question: A boy is 17 years old and his sister is twice
When the boy is 23 years old, what will be the age of his
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
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.
play on Sundays. Intelligent quotient and problem-
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
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
But there are certain things that the general public and
media don’t need to know about when it comes NFL Draft
Their Wonderlic score is at the top of that list.