Anyone watching the NFL Network’s coverage of the NFL Combine that began on Tuesday, February 26 and lasts until Monday, March 4, has undoubtedly heard the term ‘Wonderlic’ being thrown around.
What the NFL experts and television announcers are referring to is something called the Wonderlic Test, which is essentially a type of intelligence test that NFL teams use to assess the aptitude of the prospective draft picks.
Of course, it’s a bit more complicated (and a lot more interesting) than that simplified explanation, so here we investigate further exactly what the Wonderlic Test is, why and for how long it has been used by the NFL, and the test score odds and predictions for some important players invited to the combine.
Quickly, what is the NFL Combine?
The NFL Combine is basically a pro football audition where the best college athletes meet up in a stadium to demonstrate their strength, speed and overall aptitude in front of a big group of important NFL decision makers.
It has been happening in Indianapolis, IN at the end of every February to the start of every March since 1982 and the NFL Network does a fun job televising it.
We covered it in greater detail in our recent article: NFL Combine Prop Bets: 40-Yard Dash Time, Vertical Jump, Bench Press and More.
To demonstrate their speed and strength, players participate in events like the 40-yard dash and the vertical jump, but to demonstrate their overall aptitude they take something called the Wonderlic Test.
What is the Wonderlic Test?
The official name started as the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test but it is now known as the Wonderlic Personnel Test, and it’s not just for testing NFL prospects.
Its nickname is the Quick IQ Test.
This so-called group intelligence test is popular, used in many colleges, entry-level jobs and more specific team-making efforts to figure out the aptitude of prospects for learning and problem solving for a particular occupation.
The prospects’ test results help whoever’s hiring to assess who all the best candidates for the job are, though the Wonderlic would only make up a portion of that decision-making process.
Who created the Wonderlic test?
The man’s last name is, you guessed it, Wonderlic, first name Eldon, middle initial F.
Eldon F. Wonderlic actually developed the test in 1936 while he was a graduate student at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, with the goal of “measuring general cognitive ability in the areas of math, vocabulary and reasoning.”
The newest version used was released in January 2007, and there are currently 30 tests offered.
Exactly how is the Wonderlic work administered?
The test is made up of 50 multiple-choice questions, and you have to answer as many as you can in just twelve minutes, with the number of correct answers being your score.
The test can be given either online or in printed form.
A result of 20 indicates average intelligence, which is the equivalent of someone with an IQ of 100, and a minimum score of 10 points suggests that the person is literate.
What are some sample Wonderlic questions?
Sample Wonderlic tests and questions are all over the internet, but here are a few of them to give you an idea of how easy (or difficult?) they are.
Remember, there would be 50 of these and you’d have to answer as many of them as you could in just twelve minutes.
- Counting from 1 to 100, how many 6s will you encounter? (10, 11, 18, 19 or 20?)
- The answer is ‘20’ when you add in all the 6’s there in the sixties (64, 65, 66, etc)
- Bruce likes 143 but not 144. He likes 3500 but not 3600. He likes 8 but not 9. Which does he like? (1500 or 1600?)
- The answer is Bruce likes the lesser number, so he likes 1500 but not 1600.
Is the Wonderlic Test reliable?
Of course, that’s debatable, but according to at least two different studies, it is a fairly reliable test.
One study was done in 1982 by a man named Carl Dodrill, who administered the test twice over a five-year period and he reported that the test-retest reliability for the Wonderlic was .94.
A 1989 article in Psychological Reports scored the Wonderlic with a .87 on the reliability scale.
Can anyone take the Wonderlic Test?
Yes, it’s not just for athletes seeking professional employment.
Any search online will link you to the places that offer the Wonderlic Test.
There are even places where you can take sample versions of the test free, as well as read through sample questions to prepare yourself for taking the actual test.
When was the Wonderlic first used by the NFL?
The Wonderlic test was actually first used to predict player performance in the 1970s by the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach Tom Landry.
It has been used every year since at the NFL Combine to assess players just before the draft takes place.
Most general managers and head coaches are looking for players who score about average, or 20, on the Wonderlic Test.
Can a player’s Wonderlic score predict his success in the NFL?
Turns out, not really.
Plenty of successful players in the NFL have scored well below their position average, the easiest example to site are some Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
The average Wonderlic score for a quarterback is 24, but Hall-of-Famers Terry Bradshaw (16), Dan Marino (15) and Jim Kelly (15) all had scores significantly lower than that.
The highest scores are no indicator of NFL success either.
Here’s an interesting fact – of all the players that posted the 10 highest Wonderlic scores all time, only Cincinnati Bengals former punter Pat McInally went to a Pro Bowl, and that was in 1981.
Even more interesting fact – McInally scored a perfect 50, the only one ever in the NFL.
Is too high or low a Wonderlic score a problem in the NFL?
If the score is too low, the player might not be able to grasp the intricacies of a playbook, but if it’s too high the player might think he’s smarter than the coach.
That’s probably why NFL coaches are very happy when a player scores anywhere near the overall average of 20.
What is the average Wonderlic score in the NFL by position?
In professional football, every player has to be smart enough to understand and follow the complex X’s and O’s of the game plan, but some positions seem to require a little more smarts than others.
The quarterback is one of those, but when you look at the average Wonderlic score for each position, you’ll see that he’s not necessarily the smartest player on the field.
Here are the average Wonderlic scores by NFL position:
- Offensive tackle – 26
- Center – 25
- Quarterback – 24
- Guard – 23
- Tight end – 22
- Safety – 19
- Linebacker – 19
- Cornerback – 18
- Wide receiver – 17
- Fullback – 17
- Halfback – 16
Do many successful NFL players score well below average?
Yes, there have been some embarrassing Wonderlic scores since the test has been used in the NFL but a lot of those surprisingly go with some high-level talent.
The lowest score ever known by an NFL player is by New York Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne, who scored a 4.
Former Tennessee Titan quarterback Vince Young scored a 6, Seattle Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski scored a 9 and Baltimore Ravens young quarterback Lamar Jackson scored a 13.
Which NFL players have scored well above average?
There are some smart men in the NFL, and a lot of them are quarterbacks, but not all of them.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz scored a 40 while the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady scored a 33.
Detroit Lions former wide receiver Calvin Johnson scored a 41, while the New Orleans Saints’ tight end Ben Watson scored a 48.
What Wonderlic Prop bets are available for the 2019 NFL Combine Invitees?
As is always the case, oddsmakers have made the NFL Combine fun by setting up some proposition bets or prop bets, associated with various players’ Wonderlic scores.
Never gamble what you don’t have, of course, but come on, when else do you get the chance to put money down on a player’s brain?
Here are some of the Wonderlic Test over/under prop bets now available online.
Quarterbacks (average = 24):
Defensive Linemen (average = 23):
Wide Receivers (average = 17):
Defensive Backs (average = 18):
Linebackers (average = 19):