The QB Blast: Wonderlic Means Little For Corners

April 5th, 2012

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson (1990 & 1991) writes The QB Blast column here at Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson is often seen as a color analyst on Bright House Sports Network, and he trains quarterbacks of all ages locally via his company,America’s Best Quarterback. Plus, he’s a really cool dude.


Hearing of Morris Claiborne’s Wonderlic results made me think back to taking this very same test and still wondering if it really predicts much of anything in the NFL.

It is one of many measurements for scouts and teams to weigh when making decisions, but many a combine “wonder” has moved up the draft board and bombed when they actually had to play football.

Troy Aikman didn’t score as high that year on the Wonderlic as either Jason Garrett (Princeton) or I did, but his bronze bust in Canton and three shiny Super Bowl rings seem to catch more people’s eyes than our 30+ scores on the intelligence test (mine 33, his 36 if I remember correctly).

As far as Claiborne goes, outside of kicker and punter, I can’t think of a position on the football field that requires less thinking than cornerback. Kickers only have to know one thing: kick it through the uprights. Punters two things: kick it as far as you can OR make it stop before the goal line. Cornerbacks rarely need to know much more than three things: cover deep, cover short or cover that guy wherever he goes. Defenses as a whole certainly do more than that with the front 7, but corners can only be responsible for so much.

If a player has had behavior issues in college and then also has an extremely low Wonderlic score, that should be a red flag for an organization to proceed with extreme caution, but if the player has good film and you’ve done your homework on his background, being successful on the kinds of things that are asked on that test just don’t translate to success on the gridiron.

43 Responses to “The QB Blast: Wonderlic Means Little For Corners”

  1. Bricen Says:

    Not sure if I should be posting this here or if I’m even allowed to, but here’s audio of Gregg Williams talking to the defense before their playof game with the 49ers. Damn.

  2. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Is there ANY chance that the Bucs were the ones who leaked the Wonderlic score? Poissible trying to deter the Vikings and Browns from selecting Claiborne? I would be shcoked that Schiano would have ANY part of this. But it IS the NFL so….just saying.

  3. Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    The Vikings want Kallil and the Browns want Richardson, Morris will be there for Tampa when we pick.


    I think the fans of certain draft picks are trumpeting this score as some sort of rationalization, far more than any front offices are.

    Do I want this guy operating on my medulla oblongata? Well, no. But if the position is not an analytical one (QB, LB, some OL), then, I want a great player on the field (could be any position of need), who is not likely to punch me in the back of head or shoot at me off the field.

    Look for great players with great character.

  5. OB Says:

    Joe, I sent you twice the sample tests from Wonderlic. The real test is 50 questions in 21 minutes, if you look at the sample test, you can see where you could get hung up on certain questons and spend a lot of time answering them instead of skipping those answer all you can and come back. Plus I don know if calculators or other electronic devices are allowed for the math questons.

    If I was an agent, I would not let my person take the test because it is meaningless for playing football. You can either do it or not, but you can be taught to do it if you have the ability to do it.

  6. jvato24 Says:

    The reason this wonderlic doesnt mean squat is because the Bucs will interview Claiborne on info that in Important to them, and that is what they will judge him by and how he answers

  7. Pewtergoon Says:

    Jeff, while I agree with your overall assessment, I do think you are understating the amount of instinct involved in being a CB. While this may not require what we think of as textbook intelligence, there are many types of intelligence and CB certainly requires it. I forget who it was, but I believe it was a CB in the Giants/Patriots Superbowl from Super Bowl XLII, where he recognized a formation from film study and jumped the route to intercept the ball to basically close it out for the Giants. This takes intelligence just not the same type it takes to be a great QB.

  8. jvato24 Says:

    But if Im the Bucs, I am still doing some extra homework .. Ya know .. Call his 3rd grade teacher and see how he did in Math

  9. CharlieB Says:

    Pewter, dogs can learn to recognize a repeated pattern and predict what is coming. Understanding word association and math doesn’t really reflect a corner’s ability to predict the actions of a couple people.

  10. Pewtergoon Says:

    @CharlieB, You can’t be serious. You are insinuating that anyone can be taught to be a CB in the NFL. The concept of different types of intelligence is well documented. The nine types of intelligence are: naturalist, musical, logical-mathematical, existential, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic, intra-personal and spatial.

    I can assure you that successful CBs have incredible bodily-kinesthetic and spatial intelligence. From your remarks I’m quite sure you won’t let anything I say affect your opinion.

  11. UK_Buc Says:

    The wonderlic doesn’t matter as long as he performs on the field. However, unless we pick up an FA or cut linebacker before the draft I wouldn’t draft him…a cover corner is useless if the other team can run every time up the middle for 8 yards per carry! Trade down for Kuechly.

  12. Theodore Says:

    But it’s more than just the Wonderlic scores. On the radio this morning, they were talking about Claiborne’s Twitter account and how some of his tweets had dollar signs in them.

    Oh. MY. GOD!

    How can this “man” even be considered to be drafted by the Bucs, let alone the NFL. In any round. What next, is Claiborne going to tweet lmFao?

    I mean, dollar signs. Is a worse crime against society? What if Claiborne decides to wear a hoodie? The Bucs need to pass on Claiborne and make a safe pick, like a white guy from Nebraska.

  13. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    I have to give the Bucs some credit as they appear to be VERY good at doing their homework, ala Mike Williams. I am sure they are going over Morris Claiborne with a fine tooth comb. Any word on what has been going on at OBP and/or the predraft visit with Claiborne?

  14. SensibleBuc Says:

    *Caution: My Obligatory Daily T-Rich Post*

    “Cornerbacks rarely need to know much more than three things: cover deep, cover short or cover that guy wherever he goes. Defenses as a whole certainly do more than that with the front 7, but corners can only be responsible for so much.”

    *ding* *ding* *ding* Right on as usual Jeff. They call Revis “Revis Island” because he’s out there locked up on ONE guy affecting ONE side of the field…

    Which is EXACTLY why, with all things being equal, I’d take T-Rich over Claiborne. The impact of elite CBs can be minimized by simply throwing away from them. Elite RBs run, pass protect, catch balls out of the backfield and keep our defense and opposing offenses off the field.

    VOTE T-RICH IN 2012!

    Disclaimer: Paid for by the Trent Richardson to the Bucs Campaign

  15. SensibleBuc Says:

    @ Pewtergoon

    Are “instincts” and “bodily-kinesthetic or spatial intelligence” the same thing? Or are you conflating the two?

    Not arguing just trying to understand your POV.

  16. Have A Nice Day Says:

    His wonderlic score only matters to those on the “Richardson-2-Bucs” campaign.

  17. Eric Says:

    So good at their homework they lost ten straight.

  18. Have A Nice Day Says:

    @Theodore hahaha Awesome!

  19. Cmurda Says:

    Since the Wonderlic has obsessed our JBF board recently, let’s clear up a couple things. This meaningless test translates in theory only and in practice rarely. (See Carlson article) Furthermore, the word straight from LSU, who has no dog in the fight of who drafts MO, is that MO has a well-documented learning disability particularly as it relates to reading. The Wonderlic is similar to an IQ test which is designed to test your ability to process information quickly and respond. Precisely the opposite of what a person with a learning disability can excel in. LSU went on to say that MO learns but he has to take more time than most. So, let’s get this straight. MO is not a dumbass. Let’s get another thing straight. We need to draft him.

  20. BigBear Says:

    @Sensiblebuc I disagree. An elite corner effects the entire defense. If a corner can shut down the offenses best receiving option that will allow the rest of the defense to play in position. the LAck of a true number one corner on a defense often makes the secondary roll coverage to help the corner matched up with the offense’s best option. That would allow large gaps and potential holes in the secondary for the offenses other options to exploit. A corner doesn’t just affect that one side of the field.

  21. SteveK Says:

    Wonderlic is over rated, but a 4. That is terribad.

  22. deminion Says:


    Claiborne !!!!!!!

  23. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Didn’t Jimmy Johnson say a few days ago that he missed on 90% of his draft picks where he reached on a player who had a less than stellar Wonderlic score?

    Ughhhhh….is draft day here yet?

  24. deminion Says:


    thats one of the best Claiborne to Bucs at #5 post ever!!


  25. T in Orlando Says:

    @ SenisibleBuc

    I think you’re underestimating the value of a great CB. Being able to effectively neutralize an opposing teams best weapon in the passing game is extremely valuable, playing “10 on 10” instead of “11 on 11” benefits the entire defense.

    Also, the number of “shut-down” corners is significantly smaller than than “do-it-all” RBs in the league, so there are likely to be fewer opportunities to grab another elite CB compared to Elite RB.

    Finally, if we’re speaking elite level players and taking serious injury out of the equation, the “life span” (time playing at an elite level) of a top flight corner is probably 6-8 years, while that of a top flight RB would be what, 4-6 years.

    A great RB is very valuable, but if I have Claiborne and Richardson graded equally at their respective positions (let’s say Adrian Peterson vs Champ Bailey), I’ll take Claiborne 10 times out of 10. If the Bucs have Richardson graded as the next Peterson, and Claiborne as the next Brandon Carr (very good, but not great), I would expect them to take Richardson, if available.

  26. jvato24 Says:

    In an NFL where a team runs 3 WRs with regularity, and some teams having 3 or more starting caliber to pro bowl caliber WRs … You better have some corners!!

  27. SteveK Says:

    From a Buc’s Team Standpoint (In support of Sensible Buc):

    Bucs Offense + Trent Richardson = “Complete with potential for elite”

    Bucs Defense + Mo Claibourne = about 5 more pieces shy of being complete.

    What a better way to complement Freeman, then to add a 1st round super toy, in TR?

    Claibourne is a nice pick, but if Trent Richardson is the better player.

  28. SteveK Says:


    True, but what if we can keep the 3 WR sets off the field with long sustaining drives?

    Hammering Richardson and Blount at opponents with our O-Line, we can do great things.

    Any way you cut it, the D is better when they are off the field.

    Let’s ground and pound the soft underbelly of the NFC South.


    Perhaps this is a chicken or the egg conversation. I understand what you are saying about keeping the offenses off the field by running the ball. However, at a certain point it won’t matter.

    If the opposition get the ball first, and scores quickly against TB’s weak back 7, it’s 0-7. Even if running the ball takes 5, 8, 10 minutes off the board, next the other team gets the ball, they will have 14, then 21.

    Whether TB is down 14 or much more, at some point in the game, Freeman will be forced into strictly passing the ball, ergo, taking TB running backs out of the game. So, the player everyone is clamoring for could effectively be a non-factor for several quarters a game.

    Schiano might talk about running the ball (offense), but, remember, he is a defensive coach, first and foremost. He also has Butch Davis brooding in the background. I just don’t see them not focusing first on this sieve, known as the TB defense, first.

  30. BigMacAttack Says:

    I believe the low Wonderlic and learning disabilities do matter, but it is something Claiborne has probably dealt with and overcame his entire life, and he has excelled through it. He is a fantastic player and maybe he would be better with more brains (for lack of better term) but he might have a little less Heart too, because it takes heart to overcome adversity. Whenever you lose a sense all the others become keener. I will be very happy if the Bucs draft Claiborne, Richardson or Blackmon. I believe they will all excel and make the teams that choose them instantly better. It is a can’t lose position being in the top 5.

    I believe Janoris Jenkins, although smaller than Mo, is the best CB in the Draft, but he has issues, and if he is finally past them, he will be a great value pick.

  31. SteveK Says:


    Draft TR in round 1, and then devote the rest of the draft to D.

    Sounds fair?

    Past 2 years 1 and 2 picks were all D, and all Freeman got was a 4th round TE.

    You don’t spend this kind of money on a prized O-Line, just to put a mediocre RB in there.

    Great O-Line + Great RB tandem= Great results.

    $18 million in cap space, Bucs should’ve, would’ve could’ve nabbed up some LB’s in FA, but oh well.

    Richardson is elite, and we would be lucky to add his services.


    Luckily, you, nor I get to make the call.

    If you’ve watched enough drafts, you’ve heard about a RB every year that is supposed to be the “next elite RB”.

    I think TR is good, but no one can truly can see into the future. But, I have already seen what Blount can do on an actual NFL team. I’d much rather give him a year (and fix the back 7), and, if he can’t work out the weaknesses in his game after getting an offseason of coaching, get your great RB next year.

    Like I said, luckily, none of the armchair GM’s (myself included) have to make that decision.

    It would be funny if TB winds up getting Kalil.


    Also, the beauty of having an elite OL, is that you can put a nominal RB back there and still get great results. See: Denver Broncos under Shanahan.

  34. CharlieB Says:


    You are right to a degree. I think someone athletically gifted can be taught CB if it starts early enough to build the right instincts.

    However, nothing in the wonderlic test evaluates body kinesthetic or spatial intelligence. So really, you make a good argument for why the wonderlic is a poor judge for a CB.

  35. AtlBucsFan Says:

    Why is the press ignoring the real story here. The score should have never been leaked. It violates MC’s right to privacy! Goodell should be jumping all over this in finding out how this information was leaked and then sending in his goonies to clean house. (Or he could just send in Gregg Williams.)

  36. Cmurda Says:

    @ BigMac Janoris Jenkins better than MO? Hell no! Not even close. Besides, pencil me as the doubting Thomas of the Janoris is over his off-field problems school of thought.

  37. Have A Nice Day Says:

    @ATLBucsFnan Unfortuantely Goodell is up to his ears in work from the Saints bounty debacle ranging from civil suits all the way to the LA state Senate sticking their noses into the mix.
    You’d think with all the garbage that the LA government has caused they would work on fixing the other far more important problems they’ve created.

  38. PewterGoon Says:

    @CharlieB: Thanks, that was really my only point. He scored badly on a test that is meant to only give a score for a very small subset of what is the large thing called “Intelligence”.

  39. BigMacAttack Says:

    @Cmurda, we’ll see how it plays out when they get in games. I only hope Jenkins is over the transgressions, but can’t say he is, only hope. The Gators lost a lot on defense when they let him go. I feel he is every bit the CB as Mo , but have to wait and see when they get to their teams. Mo is taller, but Janoris is stronger and can play press coverage very well. We’ll see how it plays out, and everyone and everything says Mo is better, but as usual I go with what my untrained eyes tell me, which is that Jenkins can play with the best receivers in the league, and he did while a Gator. He can also return punts if needed. I see Jenkins as a possible option for the Bucs if they trade back and maybe get a second pick in the 1’st round or early second when I think Jenkins may be gone by then.

  40. Cmurda Says:

    @ BigMac. I’m not going to argue the talent. I agree with you. There was a reason he didn’t finish as a Gator though. Besides, do we really want to go from Aqib Talib to another Aqib Talib?

  41. BigMacAttack Says:

    Yea I agree, big risk, and I think Mo would be a great player for us. I have a soft spot for kids from Pahokee and Belle Glade. It’s just me wanting him to succeed. I loved watching him as a Gator. You never know what all that money will do to a person. Big question mark with 3 strikes already.

  42. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    I’m pretty much over my initial shock over the low wonderlic score. The more I read up about Claiborne, as well as read articles like this, the more I am able to look past it. I feel very confident he will be an excellent player for us, and I will stand up and cheer if we call his name on the 26th. And for the record, I am on the “Richardson 2 Bucs” campaign. But more realistically, I’m on the “I want the Bucs to kick arse next year” campaign.

  43. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    “If you’ve watched enough drafts, you’ve heard about a RB every year that is supposed to be the “next elite RB”. ”


    Not really. There’s always a best RB in the class, but it has been widely agreed upon that TR is the best RB since AP. I don’t recall that being said with Ingram, or any other back since. I’m sorry, but even if his career ended today, I still would have taken AP. I don’t even regret the Caddy pick. But make no mistake about it, TR is a much better back than Caddy ever was.

    I also completely disagree that you can just plug any back in there behind a great OL. Perhaps any back could be effective, but there is a big difference between being effective and being elite. Effective means you take a big hole and run for 10 yards. Elite means you take that same hole and take it to the house. Effective RB’s fill up the stat sheet, elite RB’s fill up the win column.