Rams put little stock in Wonderlic scores

BY foxsports • April 22, 2013

ST. LOUIS — Les Snead and Jeff Fisher remember when the Wonderlic Personnel Test was a big deal.

Back then, the 50-question exam that's been given to NFL-bound players since the 1970s seemed like the best way to see inside a prospect's head. High scores meant a kid should easily adjust to complexities of the professional game. Low ones signaled trouble.

The problem, Snead and Fisher eventually realized, is that the theory is flawed.

"You take the test, so it means something," Snead, the general manager of the Rams, said Monday afternoon. "But I think, at the end of the day, as more and more research comes out on how human beings learn, the Wonderlic may not answer all of those questions."

"Over the years, we have had guys in the building that have had 35, 40 scores on their Wonderlic that couldn't process football," Fisher, the coach of the Rams, added. "And we've had guys that had single-digits that had no problem with football. It just happened to be some type of reading disorder, or disability."

The NFL Draft starts Thursday. Until then, we will continue to kill time by publicly dissecting players who hope to land in the league. We will question their size, speed, skills and strength. And yes, their smarts. But first, we should do ourselves a favor and dismiss the belief that a low Wonderlic score does serious draft stock damage.

In Fisher's perfect, world, we wouldn't know that two receivers the Rams could be interested in recently bombed the test.

"It's confidential information," the coach said. "The height, weight, speed and workout stuff is for public knowledge. But everything else must remain confidential."

Maybe it should. But it doesn't.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week that Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson scored an 11. The same report said West Virginia's Tavon Austin scored a seven. For perspective, the president of Wonderlic Inc. once said a 10 meant literacy. The NFL average is believed to be 20.

Other than potential embarrassment for Patterson and Austin, this news means little. At the most, a low score is a sign teams should conduct more research.

Fisher said he is more concerned with players' football intelligence. During interviews with the Rams, prospects are given a glimpse of the playbook. Then, after a break, they're asked to recite what they learned. This makes or breaks them more than multiple-choice questions unrelated to the game.

"At the end of the day, it may not be about a standardized Wonderlic test," Snead said. "But about how they learn their football plays, and then learn to adjust to the opposing team off of those plays."

So, Austin and Patterson should rest easy, if they were ever concerned in the first place. Snead and Fisher aren't too worried about low Wonderlic scores. And despite all the pre-Draft blabber, opinions of general managers and coaches are pretty much the only ones that matter.

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