Is the infamous Wonderlic really a fair measure of a player’s mental capacity? Or is it a complete waste of time that only opens these players up to unfair ridicule? This debate has been going on for a long time. But on Sunday it was revealed that the NFL may be taking a step toward settling the issue. According to a leaked memo, the NFL will be trying out a brand spanking new aptitude test at this year’s combine. Here’s the full memo:
At this year’s combine we will introduce a new and expanded player assessment tool designed to offer a much more robust and comprehensive assessment of a player’s non-physical capabilities, aptitudes, and strengths. This tool was developed by Harold Goldstein, Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Baruch College, City University of NY. Professor Goldstein is an expert in industrial psychology who has designed employment tests in a variety of other industries and has worked closely with Cyrus Mehri of the Fritz Pollard Alliance.
The assessment tool being introduced at the Combine is not intended to displace anything currently in use or substitute for other tests that are given either at the Combine or by the clubs themselves. Rather, this new test measures a wide range of competencies, including learning styles, motivation, decision-making skills, responding to pressure or unexpected stimuli, and core intellect. It was developed after detailed discussions with current and former league executives, including Ernie Accorsi, Thomas Dimitroff, John Elway, and Jerry Reese, and was reviewed by members of the general managers Advisory Committee.
This is an exciting innovation that brings updated best practices from corporate America to the NFL football operations. By giving clubs new and more relevant information, it offers additional information to supplement your decision-making in the draft. One of the most interesting aspects is that new information on player learning styles can potentially help our coaches’ work more effectively with young players.
We look forward to reviewing and receiving your feedback later this year and incorporating it into future versions of this assessment tool.
As it says in the memo, this tool will not be replacing the Wonderlic. It will be administered in addition to the Wonderlic. At least initially. I have to believe however that the long-term plan is to phase out the arguably outmoded Wonderlic and replace it with this new test. But will the new test actually be any more valuable than the Wonderlic? I guess it depends on who you’re asking. There are some who say intelligence and decision-making and all that stuff can’t really be measured by a test. You just have to roll the dice on a guy and hope he’s not a meathead. But obviously, when millions of dollars are at stake, you want to reduce the risk associated with that dice roll as much as possible. That’s the whole point of the Wonderlic. You’re trying to identify guys who might have trouble taking coaching. And hopefully save yourself from making a very expensive mistake.
It will likely take years for anyone to know whether this new test has any more validity than the Wonderlic. You have to build up a ton of data before you can even make that determination. And even after all that data has been accumulated and the decision made, there will be many who disagree with the verdict. Point being, the Wonderlic will likely be kept for the foreseeable future, meaning the combine will feature not one but two tests designed to measure mental acuity. Why not just make guys take the SAT while they’re there? Or do a book report on Anna Karenina?