Ray's Replies: Breaking down the Wonderlic

scouting-combine-slide-ap.jpg

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.

Report: Nelson Agholor expected to be active for Eagles vs. Bengals

Report: Nelson Agholor expected to be active for Eagles vs. Bengals

Nelson Agholor is expected to be active for the Eagles against the Bengals on Sunday, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan. 

Agholor, who has struggled mightily in his second pro season, was held out of the Eagles' loss to the Packers on Monday night. Undrafted rookie and preseason standout Paul Turner dressed in his place.

The Eagles may be without their leading receiver, Jordan Matthews, who has an ankle injury and is considered a game-time decision.

For the season, Agholor has 27 catches for 264 yards in 10 games. His lone touchdown reception came in the Eagles' win over the Browns in Week 1.

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

BOX SCORE

Rewind 24 hours.

The Sixers were walking off the court Friday night after a dismal blowout loss to the Magic that left Brett Brown reflecting on Saturday, “Here in Philadelphia, at home, that’s not good enough.”

The Sixers had lacked fire and grit, especially with Joel Embiid on the floor against a sub-.500 Magic team that had played the night before in Memphis. 

They had a day to turn it around. A playoff contending Celtics squad was coming to town and Embiid wasn’t available because of his back-to-back limitations. The shorthanded Sixers (see below) had a tall task ahead of them. 

The Sixers reacted by jumping out early and kept the Celtics at bay in the first half. Even when the Celtics cut their lead to three midway through the second quarter, the Sixers responded with an 8-0 burst to go up by a game-high 11 points. 

The Celtics exposed the Sixers' defensive void in the paint without Embiid in the third. With the Sixers up 65-58, Isaiah Thomas drew a foul against Jahlil Okafor. That play sparked a 9-0 Celtics run over the next two minutes, in which Thomas scored six of those points (including four at the line). The Celtics took back the lead during that stretch and forced the Sixers to play catchup.

The Sixers cut the Celtics lead to one in the fourth with a three from Dario Saric, who played one of his most aggressive games of his short NBA career. After the Celtics jumped back up by seven, the Sixers kept fighting and tied the game 100 apiece. The Celtics were able to pull away and finished with a one-point win, 107-106, after Ersan Ilyasova drained a three at the buzzer. 

Inside the stats
Thomas exploded for 37 points (11 for 19 from the field, 2 for 3 from three, 13 for 15 from the line), four rebounds, and seven assists.

Saric recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, both tying career-highs. 

Ersan Ilyasova dropped 18 points, including three treys, and six rebounds.

Okafor and Sergio Rodriguez scored 15 apiece, with Rodriguez adding eight assists. 

Avery Bradley dropped 20 points and nine rebounds. 

Stauskas starts in place of Covington
Brown turned to shooting guard Nik Stauskas to slide over to the three spot in place of the injured Robert Covington (see below). 

“Boston’s perimeter defense is as good as it is in the NBA,” Brown explained. “I think you need to have more ball handlers, people who can make a play, on the perimeter … I feel that Nik has that ability to put it to the floor and disrupt that aggressive pressure that the Celtics backcourt can put on you.”

Broken ankles
Saric came up with the Sixers' highlight play of the game when he did this to Jonas Jerebko in the third quarter for an instant highlight reel moment. 

Always a student
Not playing, still learning. Embiid has been praised for being an eager student of the game. During warmups he sat courtside to watch film on a laptop even though he wasn’t suiting up. 

Injury updates
Joel Embiid is not playing in back-to-back games and sat out the back end of this home-home series for rest … Robert Covington sat out with a sprained left knee he suffered on Friday after colliding with T.J. McConnell chasing a ball out of bounds … Jerryd Bayless missed his fourth straight game with left wrist soreness. 

Up next
The Sixers host the Nuggets on Monday night.