Ray's Replies: Breaking down the Wonderlic

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Ray's Replies: Breaking down the Wonderlic

Q. With the NFL scouting combine coming up, I was thinking about the Wonderlic test. I’ve heard so much about it but I still don’t know what it is. I’ve also heard some people say it has no validity whatsoever. I’m just wondering if you could explain what it is and give me your opinion on how useful -- or not useful -- it is.

--Scott S.
Cherry Hill, N.J.

A. The Wonderlic test dates back to the 1930s. It was created as a means to evaluate candidates for jobs in business. It was not created as a measuring stick for football players but that’s how it is viewed by many people because they never heard of the Wonderlic in any other context.

The test consists of 50 questions with a 12-minute time limit. It is not like some standardized tests, which ask questions about history or literature. The Wonderlic test is more about comprehension and puzzle solving. A sample question: “If rope is selling for 20 cents for two feet, how many feet can you buy for $15?”

What does that have to do with football?

Good question.

The Wonderlic doesn’t measure IQ and it doesn’t reveal a lot about your educational background. It is more about your ability to think through a problem. There is also the matter of pressure, working against the clock, trying to answer all the questions before time runs out. Most people do not finish the full test.

Some media members have taken the test (I never have). Most agreed the questions are not that difficult but, for the players, knowing how much is riding on everything they do at the combine, it can be a nerve-wracking experience.

In all the years of testing, only one player -- Pat McInally, a receiver and punter from Harvard -- has scored a perfect 50. McInally was selected in the fifth round of the 1975 draft by Cincinnati and played 10 seasons in the NFL. Another Harvard man, Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, completed the test in nine minutes and scored a 48.

A high Wonderlic score was another factor in Mike Mamula’s dramatic rise in the 1995 draft. In addition to running a fast 40-yard dash, Mamula aced the Wonderlic, reportedly scoring a 49. What did it mean? As it turned out, not a lot. He played five seasons with the Eagles and finished with fewer sacks (31.5) than Wonderlic points.

There was a better correlation with Brian Westbrook. The Villanova star had the highest Wonderlic score among the running backs at the 2002 combine. That was one reason why Andy Reid felt confident in drafting Westbrook in the third round: he wanted a back who was smart enough to learn multiple positions in his offense. Westbrook could do that and it made him one of the most versatile weapons in the league.

To me, the Wonderlic is just one more piece of the puzzle in evaluating a player. I take it all -- the 40-yard dash, the vertical leap, the bench press, the Wonderlic -- and use it to fill in any gaps that are left after studying the game tape. That’s still the most important part of the evaluation process -- seeing how a player actually plays -- but the combine tests, the individual workouts, the one-on-one interviews help complete the profile.

What does a low Wonderlic score mean? It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Two years ago, LSU’s Patrick Peterson scored a nine, lowest among all cornerbacks. Arizona didn’t care. The Cardinals drafted him in the first round and Peterson is now one of the league’s rising stars.

That same year, Curtis Marsh scored a 30, tied for second among cornerbacks. Marsh has been with the Eagles for two seasons and done zilch.

Best of MLB: Hyun Soo Kim's pinch HR gives Orioles win

Best of MLB: Hyun Soo Kim's pinch HR gives Orioles win

TORONTO -- Hyun Soo Kim hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning off Roberto Osuna, and the Baltimore Orioles beat Toronto 3-2 on Wednesday night to move within one game of the AL wild card-leading Blue Jays.

With Toronto ahead 2-1, Jonathan Schoop singled with one out, pinch-runner Michael Bourn stole second and Kim homered on a 3-2 pitch into the visiting bullpen in right, causing the Orioles relievers to jump in celebration.

Osuna (3-3) has five blown save chances, including two in his last three appearances.

Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 46th home run, a solo drive off Jason Grilli in the eighth.

Brian Duensing (1-0) got one out, and Zach Britton finished for his 47th save in as many tries (see full recap).

Mets win to keep grip on wild-card spot
MIAMI -- The Marlins walked half a block alongside a hearse carrying their ace away from Marlins Park at the start of a funeral motorcade Wednesday, and then peeled away with watery eyes to go back inside and play a game.

Drained by four days of grieving, they didn't have much left for the New York Mets.

Jay Bruce hit his 32nd home run, James Loney also homered and the Mets helped their NL wild-card chances by beating Miami 5-2.

New York began the night leading the Giants by half a game and the Cardinals by 1 1/2 games in the race for the two wild-card spots. The Mets conclude the regular season with three games at Philadelphia starting Friday.

The Marlins' loss in their home finale eliminated them from playoff contention. Despite high hopes this year, they still haven't been to the postseason since 2003.

Set Lugo (5-2) went 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs.

Jose Urena (4-9) allowed five runs in five innings (see full recap).

Cano's HR boosts Mariners' playoff hopes
HOUSTON -- Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Houston Astros 12-4 Wednesday to keep pressure on the other AL wild-card contenders.

Kyle Seager added another three-run drive in the eighth, his 30th home run this season, as Seattle pulled within 1 games of Baltimore for the second AL wild card. Houston dropped three games back as its magic number for elimination was cut to two. The Orioles were at Toronto on Wednesday night.

Cano's career-best 36th home run, a drive off Doug Fister (12-13), landed in the first row of the Crawford Boxes in left field. Cano has nine homers and 25 RBIs in 19 games against Houston this season (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Braves 12, Phillies 2

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The Associated Press

Instant Replay: Braves 12, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA – The Phillies continued to stumble toward the season’s finish line on Wednesday night. They were hammered, 12-2, by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

Adam Morgan was bruised for 10 hits and nine runs in five innings.

The Phils have lost five of their last six games. They have given up 63 runs over that span.

The Phils have lost six straight to the Braves and are 16-35 in their last 51 games against the NL East.

With four games to play, the Phils are 70-88.

Starting pitching report
Morgan was hit hard early but had to give the Phils some innings as the bullpen has carried a heavy load lately. He finished the season 2-11 with a 6.04 ERA in 23 games, 21 of which were starts.

Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz picked up the win. He gave up just one run over five innings.

At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits. They have scored 599 runs this season. They are the only team in the majors not to reach 600.

The Braves had 13 hits, including six for extra bases. They were 5 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Matt Kemp doubled and homered for the Braves.

Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 30 games. He has reached base safely in 46 straight games, tying Washington’s Jayson Werth for most this season.

ICYMI
Like Pete Mackanin, GM Matt Klentak sees a need for offense, but he remains committed to the team’s rebuild (see story).

Health check
Roman Quinn is likely done for the season. Aaron Nola is throwing in Florida (see story).

Up next
The series concludes on Thursday night. Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 3.78) will make his final start of the season (and likely his final with the Phillies) against Atlanta right-hander Josh Collmenter (3-0, 4.19).

It will be the Phillies’ final appearance in Turner Field. The Braves move into a new park next season.

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