The Wonderlic test has been a staple of the testing process at the NFL Scouting Combine for years. It's the intelligence test given to the draft eligible prospects each year, and sometimes the results leak out publicly, causing some controversy.
But this year, the 330 draft prospects will take another test designed to measure their mental aptitude. It's the Player Assessment Tool (PAT), and it's designed to be a more accurate indicator of a player's chances for success in the NFL.
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Washington attorney Cyrus Mehri is one of the developers of the PAT. He's also one of the founders of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the group designed to improve diversity and opportunity for minorities in the NFL coaching ranks. And Mehri thinks the PAT is a step forward in NFL player evaluation.
"The main thing is, we want to predict success in the NFL," Mehri said, in an appearance on The John Murphy Show. "There are a lot of different ways people are successful. Some of it is, how fast you are in the forty, your weight lifting and so-forth. But there's a lot more that makes a tremendous, successful NFL player, some of these intangibles."
"In this assessment, we're going to look at motivation, the drive to compete, those kinds of things," he said. "We're going to look at all the different ways people are smart-football smarts. How you process information, for example. And we're also going to look at some psychological factors. For instance, are you a great teammate? Are you someone they can rely on? Can you handle the pressure? Those kinds of things. "
The Wonderlic test has often been criticized for being culturally biased and not geared toward football intelligence. Mehri hopes the PAT can provide better information for team decision makers, above and beyond a standard intelligence test.
"The Wonderlic captures book smarts," he said. "We designed something that I'm calling football smarts. Everyone has different ways that they're smart, different learning styles. Some people are more about books and reading, some people learn things more visually, or aurally. A lot of different ways people are smart. You could be off-the-charts smart, but not be very good in terms of the reading, and that's the kind of thing we're going to capture."
Mehri developed the PAT with the assistance of Harold Goldstein, a professor of Industrial Psychology. The test includes about 100 questions that players must complete in one hour. The first group of draft prospects will take the test Friday. And Mehri says the players will encounter a different type of test than they've seen before.
"I'm not giving out the actual test questions, but let's say you had four different diagrams. And then you had to talk and answer questions about the relationship between those diagrams. Those diagrams do not require prior knowledge. That's the difference between this and some of the other tests that are out there."
Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone says he's just finding out more about the new assessment test this week, but he's looking forward to getting a new analytical tool to evaluate players.
"I heard about it prior to coming down here," Marrone said. "I know that if it's something that the NFL has put together and put in place, I know it's going to be first class, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it does evaluate, and how it turns out for the players on the field."
Mehri is determined that the results from the PAT will not be leaked. He says they'll be provided to selected team personnel before the draft.
"We're going to make it available to the clubs on the same kind of limited basis that they do for drug testing. So it will really be the decision makers on draft day who have this information. We're also suggesting that they get this information after they've done their full scouting, after they do all the things at the combine, so this will be the last piece of information."
Mehri and Goldstein have been developing the PAT for the last few years. And he's excited about finally seeing his tool implemented by NFL teams at this year's combine. "The NFL is always trying to innovate and is always trying to get better," he says. "That's what makes it the greatest league on the planet-it doesn't stand still. We're going to use the best practices in corporate America and science and we're going to bring that to bear here. And I think in the long run, it's going to be good for the players because their talents will shine in a way that hasn't been captured before at the NFL combine."