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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