Football IQs

Steve Sailer, iSteve Exclusives Blog, November

The NFL requires all college players hoping to be drafted to take the 12 minute Wonderlic IQ test of 50 questions. I found the stats for the top 309 prospects in the Spring 2003 draft (the one where USC’s quarterback Carson Palmer went #1). I’ve converted it into IQ scores by assuming that 20 answers right out of 50 questions = 100 and each additional right answer is worth 2 points, although that might be overstating the IQs a little (Some sources say the mean is 21 right.) The average for all the prospects was 103, which is quite good. (I suspect, however, that players practice the test more than the typical job applicant, and I’d hardly be surprised if some of the football superagents didn’t find a way for their clients to cheat.)

Here are the scores by position and for the leading football powerhouses (although the sample sizes aren’t big enough to say much for sure about colleges’ recruiting strategies—if I could find a few more years’ worth of data, we could evaluate Paul Hornung’s controversial comment that Notre Dame [2003 average 109] needs to ease up on admissions standards so it can compete with Miami [92]):

Position Count IQ
Guard 19 113
QB 17 112
Center 11 110
Tackle 36 108
Free Safety 11 108
Tight End 21 108
Wide Receiver 40 103
Defensive End 33 100
Int. Linebacker 17 100
Fullback 7 100
Cornerback 26 99
Strong Safety 10 99
Outside LB 14 98
Defensive Tackle 21 97
Running Back 26 95
California 4 119
Stanford 7 117
Colorado 6 112
Wisconsin 6 111
Arizona St. 4 111
Iowa 8 110
BYU 4 110
Notre Dame 8 109
Louisville 4 109
Florida St. 8 108
Hawaii 4 108
Michigan 6 106
Washington St. 4 106
Florida 10 105
Oklahoma 5 104
Penn St. 7 103
Ohio St. 6 103
Nebraska 4 103
Texas 5 102
Illinois 6 102
Boston College 4 102
N.C. State 4 101
Texas A&M 5 100
USC 6 99
Georgia 10 96
Tennessee 10 95
Oregon St. 5 94
Louisiana St. 4 93
TCU 4 93
Miami 10 92
Alabama 5 91
Mississippi St. 4 89

Top 10 Ranked players:

1 Carson Palmer USC QB 112
2 Charles Rogers Michigan St. WR 80
3 Terence Newman Kansas St. CB 96
4 Andre Johnson Miami WR 88
5 Byron Leftwich Marshall QB 110
6 Terrell Suggs Arizona St. DE 122
7 William Joseph Miami DT 74
8 Jordan Gross Utah T 140
9 Jerome McDougle Miami DE 80
10 Marcus Trufant Washington St. CB 98

Clearly, the NFL is willing to take guys who score low if they’ve got the physical skills, but it likes its QBs and offensive linemen to have 3-digit IQs. (Only 2 of the 17 quarterbacks on the list scored below 100—those playbooks are complicated). I hope these guys with 74s and 80s have honest agents and business managers to look after all those millions they’re making.

Smartest:

149 Kevin Curtis Utah St. WR 156
8 Jordan Gross Utah T 140
297 David Porter Iowa T 138
65 Jon Stinchcomb Georgia T 134

I’ll skip the names of the lowest scorers, but the lowest was a defensive lineman on Utah with a 70. When he lined up across from Jordan Gross (140) in practice, I wonder what their colloquys sounded like?

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