When it comes to the NFL Combine, everyone gets excited to see athletes show off their speed and explosiveness. It makes sense that they’d do that. What’s never made sense in the lead-up to the NFL Draft is the NFL Wonderlic test. Fortunately, it’s gone away. In honor of that, let’s go back and take a look at some of the highest and lowest scores in the test’s infamous history.
Highest NFL Wonderlic Test Scores of All-Time
Just like testing at the Combine, the best and worst performances on the Wonderlic were definitely discussed. The list is led by a punter who had a perfect score on the test. Most notable? QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and TE Ben Watson.
P Pat McInally – 50
Given that this information had to be leaked in order for the public to know about it should tell you why this test is preposterous. Pat McInally is the only known player to get a perfect score on the test.
Someone else might have one, but we probably won’t ever know. However, it makes sense as he came out of Harvard in the 1975 NFL Draft. That education at least helped him here.
DE Mike Mamula – 49
Mike Mamula used one of the best Combine performances to elevate his draft stock. The Wonderlic test was just the icing on the cake. Philadelphia decided to trade up to the seventh overall pick to take him, but he only played six seasons in the NFL. The Eagles passed up on Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks to get him.
WR Kevin Curtis – 48
Kevin Curtis had a solid career in the NFL. Nothing crazy, but he still found ways to be effective. He recorded the highest NFL Wonderlic test score for a wide receiver and was taken by the Rams in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Curtis played eight seasons in the NFL, recording 253 catches for 3,297 yards and 20 touchdowns.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – 48
Another Harvard product at the top of the list. Being smart helps you take tests, I guess. “Fitzmagic” entered the NFL in 2005 and remains in the league with the Washington Commanders. Smart guys know what to do in this league, and Ryan Fitzpatrick appears to find the right situation every year to keep him around for another season.
TE Ben Watson – 48
I wonder how much teams actually used these scores to determine whether or not they take a certain player. Everything I read said the Patriots factored Ben Watson’s Wonderlic score into their decision to draft him No. 32 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, but is that true?
Does one test really make a difference? Maybe New England should have weighed other factors more as Watson only played one game in his rookie year for the Pats.
Lowest NFL Wonderlic Test Scores of All-Time
Which NFL prospects scored the lowest on the Wonderlic test at the NFL Combine? The list includes a few notable names in QB Vince Young, RB Frank Gore, and CB Morris Claiborne.
QB Vince Young – 6
There’s no way Vince Young was falling out of the top 10 in the 2006 NFL Draft — even with one of the lowest NFL Wonderlic test scores ever. Young was coming off one of the most brilliant performances in college football history and was considered one of the best prospects in that class. I guess his score was foreshadowing to the number of years he’d play in the league.
RB Frank Gore – 6
No surprise, scoring low on the Wonderlic doesn’t mean anything for some players. Frank Gore is probably just waiting for his son to get to the NFL before he finally retires. His score in the Wonderlic might have affected his draft stock, but his 16,000 career yards and 81 career touchdowns show that it didn’t matter.
S Ed Prather – 5
Sometimes teams make correlations with certain players. Ed Prather was the perfect example. Teams had concerns about his reputation for blowing coverage, and they probably used his Wonderlic score to justify those concerns. He went undrafted in 2001 and never played a down in the league.
CB Morris Claiborne – 4
This one reminds us why we don’t need this test. Morris Claiborne recorded the lowest NFL Wonderlic test score ever (tied with former Iowa State RB Darren Davis) in 2012. Fortunately, the Cowboys ignored his score and traded up to the sixth pick to get him. We later learned that he was diagnosed with a learning disability, so this score comes with an asterisk. Claiborne could play, too, so the score was useless.
Why Doesn’t the NFL Do the Wonderlic Test Anymore?
The NFL announced it would eliminate the NFL Wonderlic test for prospects to help teams better evaluate those players. They’re also revising some drills to simulate game action better. The test has always been a source of conversation, and there are many reasons it needed to go.
For starters, this was one of the most mocked parts of the NFL Combine. The test didn’t exactly have a great correlation to anything related to the field. Also, agents eventually obtained copies of the test and distributed them to their players to take. Given that they could memorize a variation of the test just like a playbook, players could prepare for it just like they would a game.
The scores didn’t really mean anything either. Some guys scored really high and never panned out. Others scored really low and were studs. Coaches could also feel threatened by a player with too high of a score, so it wasn’t the most reliable way to judge a prospect.