Ah the Wonderlic. The age-old question posed by fat kids to owls in trees about Tootsie Roll Pops. I wonder how many licks it does take? Wait, scratch that.
*clears throat Ah, yes the Wonderlic. A test developed 80 years ago that much like crabgrass and dandelions pops up this time of year to say hello. Some people are content to mow over crabgrass and call it a yard while others feverishly deny it's legitimacy as a true lawn grass. So is the Wonderlic a legitimate indicator of success or is it simply another cog in the NFL hype machine? Excellent question, and one that's hard to answer. I'll present my mostly biased points and hopefully drum up some nice discussion in the process.
What is the Wonderlic? Simply put, it's a test to determine learning ability and problem-solving skills in potential job applicants. The test is given a time-limit and according to it's creator the time limit allows only 2-5% to complete it. If you're not a particularly fast reader or suffer from dyslexia you don't stand much of a chance.
The Wonderlic invades the NFL So, how does a test of mental acuity become a cornerstone of a game where physical ability is key? You can thank America's team for that. Tom Landry was the first to utilize this test and much like the moniker "America's Team", Michael Irvin's analyst career and Jerry Jones' GM/owner role something about that organization lends staying power to outdated and useless things.
Effectiveness in the NFL The main goal of the Wonderlic test is to determine future-success. How has it fared? This is where the gray area comes in. 5X Pro-Bowler Frank Gore scored a 6 while "Sunshine" Blaine Gabbert scored a 42. To put that into perspective you score anywhere from 0-50. Frank Gore has had a great career in San Francisco while Blaine Gabbert is on his second team in four years and widely considered a bust.
There are many examples to prove it's effectiveness as well. 3X Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers scored a 38 on his test while #2 overall pick Charles Rogers scored a 10 and went on to amass less than 500 receiving yards in his career.
Stupid is as stupid does So examples are all over the board for on the field success or failure and how it pertains to the Wonderlic. What about off the field? Does an acumen for problem-solving and learning ability give an indicator of whether a man can keep his head on straight when the pads are off and the wallet is full? Citing Charles Rogers (10) again he was arrested for assault and battery, violating probation and admittedly used drugs. Colin Kaepernick (38) is currently in a legal battle over questionable judgment made with drugs, alcohol and a potential sexual assault and finally Aaron Hernandez (17) is on the verge of serial killer status. Again, the scores are all over the board.
Kelvin Benjamin scores a 7 With the 28th pick in the 2014 draft the Carolina Panthers select Kelvin Benjamin. Opinions like Wonderlic effectiveness are all over the board. On one hand you can't teach size. At 6'5" 243 lbs. it stands to reason he has all the physical tools. On the other hand, you apparently can't teach Kelvin Benjamin either. He turned in the worst score of any receiver in this draft.
I don't know what to think in regards to Kelvin Benjamin's potential in the NFL. The popular regurgitated jargon is at worst he's a solid #2,
and honestly who can complain about having solid #2's?
Final thoughts I think the Wonderlic can be an indicator of success at certain positions, mainly QB, LT and LB. I don't think it determines success at the WR position but I feel like the mental ability to score well can turn a prodigy such as AJ Green (10) into a legend like Calvin Johnson (41). I think if he can compliment his size with maturity and work ethic he can be a legitimate threat at WR regardless of his score. If you are of the opinion that the score is a strong indicator of success then this draft might be a historically bad one. Our second round pick Kony Ealy registered a 10 on his.