Ah, spring. That magical time of year when NFL hopefuls' Wonderlic test scores are leaked in advance of the draft, allowing us mere mortals to score a mental point against young men about to make 8,000 times our salary. (Wanna put your brain where your mouth is? You can take a sample test here.)
The 12-minute test consists of 50 questions assessing the taker's aptitude for learning and ability to solve problems. The NFL thinks its a pretty good indication of how able a player will be to grasp a playbook, think on his feet, and cope with the complexities of his occupation. This allows teams to determine draft worthiness and make budget projections for personal minders skilled in tying shoes, explaining -- again -- how to use locker combination locks, and cutting sandwiches into little triangles for gigantic men who've been knocked in the head far, far too many times.
The Wonderlic's been used by the NFL for over 30 years, but it's not an exact predictor of league success. With 50 being a perfect score, 21 indicating average intelligence, and 10 nothing more than "literacy," Dolphins great Dan Marino scored a 16 -- but certainly no one would argue he didn't work out in the end for the franchise. On the other hand, the Dolphins just signed Eric Green to compensate for weaknesses with Jason Allen, whose score of 11 as a prospect was basically on par with "dust bunny." The 'Phins drafted him anyway, and have been disappointed ever since.
What about this year's group? Maryland cornerback Kevin Barnes scored a 41 and Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford impressed with a 38. Nerd alert!
At 12, Florida's Percy Harvin was short of the league-desired 18 for wide receivers. His score could be a red flag for Harvin, because as an athlete coming out of the college spread offense it will be necessary for him to learn more than his position mates.
Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith followed up his terrible combine with a 17, far below the position average of 26. His draft stock is plummeting faster than the economy.
But then there's Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas. He scored just a 12, but still might be the first safety taken in the draft. Which just goes to show, the Wonderlic is really more a Schadenfreudian blessing to us, the fans, than a hard and fast determinate for NFL franchises. May it always be.
Janie Campbell is a Florida native who may have just cheated on her sample Wonderlic test but cannot confirm or deny. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the internet.