Join me in welcoming another one of our new AA Staff Writers, Mr. West Valentine. Welcome West. -PA
Draftniks, Rejoice! The day is almost upon us.
Not since the days of Spartacus has the poking and prodding of highly muscled young males been anticipated with such gusto. They run, jump, throw, catch, lift and get measured in ways that would make an Italian tailor blush.
But the number most often debated on talk radio and blogs everywhere is the one residing between the ears.
The Wonderlic Score.
We all know what it is, but the real question is: What does it mean? Is it an accurate indicator of intelligence and the ability to learn and retain information, or is it an arbitrary and incongruous test of football ability?
It does tell us something, but let me say right now, I have no clue what it is.
Arguments can be made on both sides. Jim Kelly and Dan Marino both reportedly scored 15 on the test. This would suggest their mental capacity ends with the ability to dress themselves. Alas both became prolific Hall-of-Famers and quality individuals.
Nor do High scores indicate success. This may explain why Ryan Fitzpatrick gets lonely at the Ivy League NFL reunions.
There are interesting patterns to the results also. QBs and OL generally have the highest scores. Receivers and running backs are generally on the bad side of the bell curve.
This should all be caveated by saying Wonderlic scores are guarded like nuclear launch codes. It’s equally difficult to prove a low score as it is a high one. The reason for this is that agents are involved. And if you don’t know this already, they tend to lie…a lot.
Blaine Gabbert reportedly got a 42. Great score, and it gives teams the impression that he has the intellectual tools to complement his physical gifts. But who knows? Maybe he got a 4 like Darren Davis of Iowa State reportedly scored in 2000. Let me say that again. He got a 4.
If true, Darren should not only be banned from using heavy machinery, he needs supervision to use an electric toothbrush. Still, he tore up the CFL for a couple years. So what if he couldn’t remember where he parked his car? I kid, I kid.
The whole point is that there is no clear trend. Smart players are busts and not-so-smart ones become superstars. There is no clear correlation, which means it’s a waste of time. Seems simple enough.
But I have a theory. I think the Wonderlic is the ultimate Cover You’re a$$ for GMs and coaches.
If they draft a kid with a great score and he succeeds, it’s because the GM and coaches value intelligence and character. If the player flops, they say he was worth the risk because we like smart guys and it was the right thing to do.
Draft a kid with a low score who becomes a star? GM says, “I saw something special in him when others doubted his ability to adapt.” This is known as the “I am an omniscient God explanation”, AKA “The Carl Peterson Corollary.”
If that kid fails, the GM can say, “Well he was an incredible talent (so we were right on that) but he just wasn’t coachable or able to learn the intricacies of the NFL.”
But that’s just my theory.
One way or another, every fan will have a strong reaction to draft day. Will there be “smart picks” or “reaches”, “solid citizens” or “character concerns?” We’ll see soon enough.
One thing is certain, it will be like Christmas morning for us Draftniks.