The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

What's the Wonderlic Got to do With It?

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The NFL says its scouting combine "is the annual job fair for prospective new NFL players." To me it seems like an Indiana livestock auction turned reality show.

Call me nostalgic, but I remember a simpler time, when skinny baseball players chased stolen base records and the first thing most people thought of when they heard "combine" was "harvester." Like A-Rod's chances in Cooperstown, those days are long gone. The NFL season is now yearlong, and the first major postseason event - the scouting combine - is upon us.

Don't get me wrong, I think teams should have an opportunity to evaluate potential players, I'm just not sure the combine does that effectively. Originally created to consolidate physical examinations into a one-stop shop, the National, BLESTO and Quadra Scouting convention has evolved into a meat market media circus fusion. But does it achieve what it sets out to do, that is, help teams evaluate talent for the draft?

The "ultimate job interview" may have some value in giving exposure to prospects from smaller schools - if they get an invitation. But I've yet to read a good explanation of how running 40 yards a tenth of second quicker than another guy - with no pads or helmet - translates into being a successful NFL offensive lineman. Or why 225 pounds is the ideal bench-pressing weight to test a football players' strength.

Other elements just seem bizarre. The measuring of every span of the prospects' bodies, from shin to palm, like they are pieces of meat is disturbing; and then there's the Wonderlic Personnel Test. I've never put much stock in standardized tests, but what the heck does grasping a lexiphanic relationship between "credential" and "credence" have to do with playing football?

If you want to test football aptitude, then give players a bunch of plays to learn and see how well they remember blocking schemes and adjustments. If you want to test their speed, have them strap on the pads and run those plays or defend against them in a real game simulation.

There are lots of great athletes out there who can run, jump and lift - very few can make it in the NFL.

By Emil Steiner  |  February 19, 2009; 6:22 AM ET  | Category:  Draft , Emil Steiner Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: A Piece of the Process | Next: The Combine Sells

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