More on the Wonderlic Test and the Cowboys Morris Claiborne


All this talk about Morris Claiborne’s abnormally low Wonderlic score got me thinking. I realized that I hear this test talked about at draft time every year but I actually have no idea what it really is. So I decided to do a little research on the topic.

The Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test (formerly known as the Wonderlic Personnel Test) is basically a common knowledge problem solving exam. It has 50 multiple choice questions which have to be answered in 12 minutes. A score of 19-21 seems to be average, and equates to an IQ of 100. The NFL isn’t the only company to use this exam either. Many well-known organizations use it to get a feel for a person’s cognitive ability before hiring them. The job titles which have been required to take this test range from professional football players to bank tellers, police, engineers, technicians, even real estate sales agents. I am sure there are many others that also use it that I haven’t listed. I will go out on a limb from my experiences and say that Wal-Mart probably does not.

The Wonderlic has been used in Professional football for some time now. The average score of NFL players seems to range depending on the position that player plays. Center, Offensive Tackle, and Quarterback all top that list. A QB is expected to bring at least a score of 21 to the table. The people on the bottom of the list ironically seem to be the position that takes all the blows to the head. The list ends with the Wide Receiver, Fullback, and Halfback positions with scores in the 16-18 range.

The Wonderlic was created in 1936 by E.F Wonderlic. When created it was made to aid in general employee selection. It was not intended for use in the sports world but instead was used by the armed forces to decide who the pilot is and who is holding the mop. In the 1970’s Coach Tom Landry was the first to start administering this test to predict player performance. Today it is more commonly used in the NFL but in my mind it has lost some of its validity.

Let’s look at some of the scores some popular quarterbacks in the NFL have received.

R. Fitzpatrick (48)

E. Manning (39)

T. Romo (37)

A. Rogers (35)

P. Manning (28)

J. Russell (24)

B. Favre (22)

V. Young (16)

D. McNabb (14)

Just looking at QB’s alone there is such a broad range of scores. It is very funny to me that Eli is ranked one of the highest in this list though. I swear every time I am watching a Giants game all the cameramen are zooming up close trying to catch that stupid “durrrrrr” face he makes. I have never been able to contain my laughter when this happens, it’s my favorite! I am sure McNabb has never been called the brightest crayon in the box either but I always thought of him as  a decent quarterback. I also think that Ryan Fitzpatrick is nowhere near the quarterback that ¾ the people on this list are. Maybe he will turn into something special but I just don’t see it.

The point of this article is to express my opinion that some fans are taking this whole Wonderlic thing far too seriously.

In 2005, the San Francisco 49ers drafted a guy out of Miami by the name of Frank Gore and his Wonderlic score was 6. I don’t know the man; he might just be as dumb as a box of rocks. I honestly do not care, he is a beast on the field and to me that’s what really matters. Some positions in football you do need a certain amount of brain strength but I feel that the true measure of a man’s success in the NFL is the stuff that can’t be coached. I think the most important for a CB/WR is adjusting to the ball when it is in the air. Watching Dez Bryant at Oklahoma State I couldn’t help but dream he would become a Cowboy. Dez shows rare ability to adjust to the ball in the air. I feel that Morris Claiborne will offer you that same talent on the other side of the ball. I cannot wait for the season to start. He will be just fine, don’t you worry about the Wonderlic one bit.