Friday, April 16, 2010

Wonderlic this!

As the NFL Draft rapidly approaches, all the various physical attributes of prospective picks are bandied about: 40-yard dash times, number of bench presses at various weights, height of jump, length of arms, height, weight, etc., etc. But one of the scores which seems to get mixed attention -- some weighing it heavily and others not -- is the Wonderlic Personnel Test (i.e., intelligence test) score of the player.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Packers beat writer extraordinaire, Bob McGinn, has an interesting article in today's edition about offensive line prospect Bruce Campbell out of Maryland. But actually, the article goes much farther than just reviewing Campbell; it also discusses Idaho guard Mike Iupati and Florida center Maurkice Pouncey and their low scores on the Wonderlic. From there, McGinn gets into the behind-the-scenes thinking of NFL personnel experts and how they view not only these individuals' ability to perform at the NFL given their apparent smarts or lack thereof, but also in the process shows how ignoring the Wonderlic score of a prospect might come back to haunt a team...or not. It's a bit of a crap shoot.

The article also shows how a good Wonderlic score might be more important at some positions than others. The obvious one is quarterback. Anyone calling out signals and understanding defensive schemes has to have some smarts. The less obvious positions are offensive center, as well as linebacker and defensive back who might also wind up having to judge what's in front of them quickly and make snap decisions as to what scheme to call out for their particular unit.

It really is a fascinating article, not only for the analysis of the players mentioned but also for a bit of an insight into how NFL personnel people look to the Wonderlic as an assessment tool.

With kudos to one of the readers of that article who added a comment, I also want to pass along a study that reader mentioned which basically calls into question the structure of the Wonderlic and thus its reliability as a predictor of success in the NFL. You can find that study here if you wish to geek out for a moment in the realm of scholarly endeavors.

Check out McGinn's article about Campbell here.

McGinn has another fine article (as part of his Draft preview series) profiling Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State, who some say is the most intriguing wide receiver prospect this year. The catch is whether he will be a star or a bust because of character and work ethic issues. If you're looking for a comparison pre- and post-draft, think Randy Moss. Nobody knows. And, yes, the Wonderlic comes into play with this comparison as well: Moss had a 12 and Bryant scored a 16. Not rocket scientists, but really, running, jumping and catching is something we all learned in kindergarten, right? The rest is finesse...and, paraphrasing Woody Allen, showing up.

Ted's take
Courtesy of Greg Bedard's blog on the Journal-Sentinel site, some bits and pieces from Packers' GM Ted Thompson regarding the usual, he doesn't give us a clue what he's likely to do.