Johnny Manziel may have led his draft class with a 32 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test, but from a percentage standpoint, that’s not very impressive. Actually completing the test with a high score is, however, much more difficult than it may seem.
The Wonderlic Test, in short, is a set of 50 multiple choice questions that the test taker is given with 12 minutes to answer all the questions, most of which are simple in nature but require quick thinking to get through all 50 questions. An example question may be something like, “Consider the following series of numbers: 6, 12, 24, 48 and 96. What number should come next?” This would be one of the easier questions. In my practice Wonderlic Test, I nailed down a score of 28, but I only got through 33 problems.
So does that mean that my football IQ is actually on par with Peyton Manning, who also earned a 28 on his Wonderlic Test?
No. In fact there’s been no correlation found between a high Wonderlic score and a successful NFL career. That being said, the Wonderlic Test may matter more in regard to quarterbacks, although that claim hasn’t been substantiated by science. Let me explain.
Quarterbacks, unlike other positions in football, have far more control over how his team will operate when he’s on the field. If he sees a defense that he doesn’t like, he can change the play, but he has a very strict time limit to consider. Similarly, the Wonderlic Test is designed to give players a problem that demands a quick response. Usually the matter isn’t particularly difficult, but with only 12 minutes to solve 50 problems, test takers don’t have time to mull over what the solution is. Instead, they have to go with the first instinct.
Manziel’s score of 32 is a solid number. It tells us he can digest information quickly and accurately, and although that may not translate directly to success on the field, his ability to analyze what’s happening around him shouldn’t burden him in his NFL career.
In other words, the Wonderlic, at least for quarterbacks, may be able to eliminate one variable in determining whether a quarterback will have a successful NFL career or whether he’ll just be a flop. By determining how effectively a player can analyze information quickly and accurately, teams, can better evaluate the decision makers on the field, both on offense and on defense. The same premise can be applied to centers calling protections or linebackers on defense.
Manziel’s score of 32 isn’t anything to write home about. In fact, it’s not actually that big of a deal at all. We already knew he was an intelligent player. The only difference now is we have some data to back that claim up. His score certainly won’t be hurting him on draft day, but any benefit he’ll see from it will be marginal at best, but it may give him an advantage, at least in some teams’ eyes, over other top quarterback prospects like Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater.