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The editors at Best Masters Degrees decided to research the topic of
Brains and Brawn: Smartest Players in the NFL
Regardless of the position, proof of intelligence plays a profound role in the success of every individual on a team. It's not enough to have physical ability. Players have to be smart and think quickly to succeed on the field.
- 53: number of players each NFL team can have on its roster (plus a 5 player practice squad)
- 32: number of teams in the NFL
- 1,696: number of players, total in the NFL
Measuring Intelligence in the NFL
- WPT: 50 question intelligence test that measures players' ability to think on their feet, follow directions, and make effective decisions under the pressure of a time clock.
- 1937: Year the WPT was developed, as a tool to quantify the mental abilities of potential job candidates;
- 2.5 million: number of applicants in all types of companies that take WPT as part of the hiring process.
- Early 1970s: first use of WPT in NFL by Dallas Cowboys
- Fact: For the NFL, years of testing shows that the higher a player scores on the Wonderlic, the more likely he is to be in the starting lineup - for any position.
Average Wonderlic scores in the NFL (by position):
- Offensive tackle: 26
- Center: 25
- Quarterback: 24 (a quarterback's intelligence may affect his passing performance in the NFL even if it does not in college) Guard:
- Tight end: 22
- Safety: 19
- Linebacker: 19
- Corner back: 18
- Wide receiver: 17
- Fullback: 17
- Halfback: 16
- FACTOID: While an average football player usually scores around 20 points, The Wonderlic, Inc claims a score of 10 points suggests a person is literate.
Examples of scores from everyday professions show average scores of:
-Chemist - 31
-Programmer - 29
-News writer - 26
-Sales - 24
-Bank teller - 22
-Clerical Worker - 21
-Security Guard - 17
-Warehouse - 15
Rating 2013 quarterbacks by their Wonderlic score
- Blaine Gabbert - 42
- Alex Smith - 40
- Eli Manning - 39
- Matt Flynn - 38
- Colin Kaepernick - 38
- Matt Stafford - 38
- Andrew Luck - 37
- Tony Romo - 37
- Sam Bradford - 36
- Christian Ponder - 35
- Aaron Rodgers - 35
- Ryan Tannehill - 34
- Tom Brady - 33
- Matt Ryan - 32
- Matt Schaub - 31
- Phillip Rivers - 30
- Andy Dalton - 29
- Nick Foles - 29, Mike Vick - 20
- Drew Brees - 28
- Kevin Kolb/ EJ Manuel - 28
- Peyton Manning - 28
- Mark Sanchez - 28
- Russell Wilson - 28
- Joe Flacco - 27
- Josh Freeman - 27
- Brandon Weeden - 27
- Jay Cutler - 26
- Carson Palmer - 26
- Ben Roethlisberger - 25
- RGIII - 24
- Cam Newton - 21
- Jake Locker - 20
- Pat McInally, once a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, is the only football player to record a confirmed perfect score of 50. (1976-1985)
- Frank Gore, San Francisco running back (still active), scored one of the lowest Wonderlic scores: 6. But has confounded the critics by being an all star.
- Current player Ryan Fitzpatrick, a Harvard University graduate like McInally, has also been rumored to have scored a perfect score of 50.
- Scouts highly value attributes such as height, quickness, arm strength, vision, leadership and intelligence (CNN/SI, 1998)
College football conferences (Brains vs. Brawn) with players represented in NFL
- Ivy League: 7
- SEC: 329
The 5 smartest teams in football in 2012 (based on efficiency in terms of yards per points scored and yards per points allowed)
- 1. Seattle Seahawks
- 2. New England Patriots
- 3. Atlanta Falcons
- 4. Chicago Bears
- 5. NY Giants
The 5 dumbest teams in 2012 (based on the same factors)
- 1. Kansas City Chiefs
- 2. Philadelphia Eagles
- 3. Oakland Raiders
- 4. Detroit Lions
- 5. Jacksonville Jaguars
- Reigning NFL champion Baltimore Ravens is the 10th smartest NFL team.
Top 5 smartest players
- 1. Ryan Fitzpatrick: A Harvard economics major, was selected the MVP of the Ivy League in 2004. His SAT score was nearly flawless 1580. Tennessee Titans.
- 2. Greg McElroy: The Alabama grad scored an impressive 43 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test. His high football IQ makes his prospects as a coach. N.Y. Jets.
- 3. Matt Birk: The six-time Pro Bowler graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics. Recently retired from Baltimore Ravens.
- 4. Desmond Bryant: The Cleveland Brown defensive tackle received an academic scholarship to attend Harvard. He's only the 29th player from Harvard to make it to the NFL.
- 5. Bryan Walters: As a senior at Cornell University, Walters was elected into the Sphinx head society, one of college's oldest and most respected honor societies. Plays for Seattle.
Top 5 head coaches (current)
- 1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots (3 Super Bowl wins)
- 2. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (2 Super Bowl wins)
- 3. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens (1 Super Bowl win)
- 4. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints (1 Super Bowl win)
- 5. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers (1 Super Bowl win)