Players like Rams WR Brandon Gibson don’t fare well at Combine
If you haven’t heard, the league is adding a new aptitude test that will supplement the Wonderlic, rather than replace it at this week’s Scouting Combine that begins Wednesday in Indianapolis. You can go here to get a bit more details, but I found it interesting that Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff may have played a key role in getting this adopted according to a report.
I’ve never taken the Wonderlic, but I have taken the samples that you can find around the internet at times. And from my perspective, the Wonderlic is your standard run of the mill IQ test. For years people have criticized the Wonderlic largely because it doesn’t reflect football-centric intelligence. From the description of this new unnamed test, it does seem like it will have a bit more applications towards football. I’m not sure it’ll ask football-specific questions, but it’ll probably not feature a lot of the rote math or language questions that presumably the Wonderlic asked. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of it in the future. It probably is not going to replace the Wonderlic since apparently the Combine is unwilling to eliminate tests.
I know few put little stock in the Wonderlic, but I do think it is noteworthy when a player scores low, particularly quarterbacks. Generally, the consensus on the minimum a quarterback should score is at least 20. In one sense because it’s a timed test, it does sort of give you a ballpark answer on how quickly a guy can process information. But a very high score doesn’t necessarily indicate that a guy is processing information quickly. Or at least, it may not be the same sort of information that applies to reading a defense. I’m no quarterback, but I imagine that is more intuitive than academic, the latter of which seems to be what the Wonderlic is measuring.
I also think that the Wonderlic stands out in terms of its usage when you find a player that scores in the single digits. It by no means is a strong indicator that someone will be a bad pro (Roddy White scored a 4). But I know if I was a GM I would generally avoid players that scored in the single digits unless I was really impressed with their ability and upside. For example, Patrick Peterson and Chris Culliver both reportedly scored 9 on their Wonderlic tests in 2011. Peterson is of a caliber that I would “roll the dice” on him, while Culliver I might be lukewarm to take. I wouldn’t consider that the right way, just a matter of personal preference that I don’t want a locker room full of dummies. So I think in that sense, the Wonderlic can still retain some value even if this new test completely overshadows it.
I think it’s also nice that there will be a new wrinkle to the Combine this year. I think the Combine has lost some of its luster due to the sheer amount of preparation that goes into it for players. Prospects spend 4 to 6 weeks leading up to it, prepping for all the drills and tests. I think it inflates some of the numbers.
And I know GMs, coaches, scouts, and draft experts constantly talk about how it doesn’t affect things, that is straight B.S. They constantly talk about how tape from the season is what really matters, the proof is in the pudding. And the simple fact is that guys’ draft stock is largely determined by their performances at All-Star games like the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, as well as the Combine and pro days.
For example, you have a player like Texas wideout Marquise Goodwin. I saw a pair earlier games from Goodwin this year (versus Oklahoma State and West Virginia), and my assessment of him was that he was a borderline seventh round pick due to his special teams potential. He was targeted 10 times combined in those games and caught all 10 passes thrown his way for 52 yards. Factor in the 28 yards after the catch he had, you realize that those 10 targets traveled a combined 24 yards in the air. Essentially all 10 of his passes came on screens, quick outs, or comebacks, the types of routes that don’t require a ton of skill to execute. He may have only had 1 or 2 targets that required him to run a route more than 5 yards downfield in that pair of games. What I saw from him in those games was good straight-line speed that made me believe he had good upside on special teams. But his short stature (5-9/180) probably would limit how effective he would be as a vertical threat at the next level. But what also hurt him in my eyes was that he wasn’t that productive after the catch. Had he gone for 78 yards instead of 28 yards after the catch, then I’d be more willing to buy his dynamic potential. For me, Goodwin was a speedy slot type that may not be a reliable everydown option.
But Goodwin went to Mobile and killed at the Senior Bowl. And now he’s a potential Top 15 receiver prospect that is projected to go on the second day of the draft.