McElroy Wows NFL in Test

Just how smart does a quarterback have to be to play in the NFL?  That question may have been answered this weekend at the college combine in Indianapolis.

Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, ranked as the 12th best in the nation at his position, recorded the second-best ever score on the infamous Wonderlic test on Monday.  McElroy scored a 48 out of a possible 50, which amazed the scouts in attendance.

McElroy led the Crimson Tide to the National Championship over Texas in his junior year, but had a sub-par season last year and his credentials dipped in the NFL’s eyes.   He is unable to throw at the combine because of a broken hand.  Before this weekend, McElroy was projected as a fifth round pick.

Two NFL scouts told NBC’s Pro Football Talk that they doubt the accuracy of the original report, saying it is highly unlikely that the scores could be known at this point.  However McElroy’s father, Greg McElroy Sr., said his son did score a 48, according to the Birmingham News.

The Wonderlic Test is given to prospects at the Combine in an effort to rate how quickly a player can adapt at learning plays and digesting teams’ huge playbooks. The average score for a quarterback is 24 out of 50, which is also the average score for non-athletes across a range of professions.  McElroy scored two times the average.

A score of 48 is still behind former Cincinnati Bengals Punter Pat McInally.  A former Harvard grad, McInally is the only player to register a verified 50 out of 50 on the test.  That score is what convinced then Coach Paul Brown to draft McInally because he was enamored with intelligent football players.  McInally once said he thought the score hurt him because NFL coaches and owners don’t like “extremes” in one direction or the other.

It is rumored Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick registered a 48 also on the Wonderlic test, however other reports deny that.  The NFL doesn’t release the scores and they are only leaked by scouts and reporters at the Combine.  So verification is difficult to do.

Arguably one of the smartest quarterbacks ever in the league Bernie Kosar, who graduated from University of Miami in less than 3 years, doesn’t have a registered score because he didn’t compete in the combine.  The reason is he wasn’t graduated by the draft in April and entered the league in the Supplementary draft in August of 1985.

Another quarterback many said was at the other end of the spectrum was Terry Bradshaw.  The 4-time Super Bowl winning quarterback scored a 15 on the test.  Jim Kelley and Dan Marino had the same score.  But that wasn’t the worst.  Oscar Davenport from North Carolina put up a score of 6 in 1999.  And Vince Evans of USC, who did play with the Chicago Bears for a short time, had a score of 8 in 1977.

Other notable Super Bowl winning quarterbacks had different scores.  Eli Manning led the way with a 39.  Tom Brady a 33.  John Elway and Troy Aikman each had a 29.  Brett Favre and Trent Dilfer were on the bottom at a 22.

The Wonderlic score isn’t an automatic entrance into the NFL.  It only registers the quarterback’s aptitude to pick up things quickly and relay it to his teammates.  McElroy may not have the tools to play in the league, but it won’t be because of his smarts.

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