NFL

A.J Green and Patrick Peterson's Wonderlic Scores Likely Mean Nothing

This last week, more of this blasted Wonderlic news was leaked, as we learned that A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson scored low on the Wonderlic (reportedly a 10 and a 9 respectively). One of my least favorite things about this time of year is these Wonderlic “reports,” because they are leaked for various nefarious reasons, and all they serve to do is embarrass somebody in the short term.

Test scores in situations like this are near to my heart, as I’ve worked in the past with kids from lower income school districts on improving test scores to get into college. Despite claims about that it’s an intelligence test, it is a test that also includes both your current knowledge base and your ability to take written tests. Here’s a sample.  The individual questions aren’t very difficult, but it is timed. Some people, who may do just fine under time pressures in a physical setting like a football game struggle when they know they have to read and answer written questions quickly. Some people simply don’t test well, or freak out when presented with math word problems that require multiple steps. Some can’t read very well; others may have learning disabilities.

I could probably take a player, without improving his intelligence and knowledge base, and teach him to get a better score by ignoring questions and focusing on getting to those he can do best. According to the story, Green said he attempted to answer about 20 of the 50 questions, and was just “thinking too long”. If that’s right (and it seems entirely honest and probable), then he got 50% of those he read right but probably spent way too much time thinking about problems he was going to miss anyway. If he learned to just entirely ignore and pass over all math word problems (for example), to get to questions he could answer quicker, he might have gotten a higher score. And been no better or worse the NFL receiver for it.

I don’t know anything about A.J. Green or Patrick Peterson. I probably know as much as the unnamed source in that article that referenced A.J. Green as a “dumb receiver”. What I do know is that I certainly wouldn’t use just a test score like this to make that determination for an NFL receiver. Most people think it is more important for a position like receiver than others (learning the route combinations and such), but even more important for quarterbacks. The data on that, though, is dubious. According to this study from 2005, there was no relationship between Wonderlic score and college passing performance, salary in the NFL, or rookie year quaterback rating.

I don’t know what will happen with Green or Peterson. I feel bad that this stuff always comes out this time of year, usually by teams leaking information to create smoke screens. I guess I won’t feel nearly as bad when they get that paycheck, because ultimately, I don’t think this affects where they are drafted.

[photo via Getty]

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