The 2013 NFL Combine will feature a new and improved non-physical aptitude test. Prior to 2013, the NFL issued a controversial Wonderlic exam to players to asses non-physical aptitude. In an effort to improve on the controversial practice – the results of which were declared confidential in 2008 – the NFL Combine will supplement the Wonderlic with additional testing.
NFL.com’s Albert Breer acquired the following memo describing the changes to the Wonderlic:
At this year’s combine we will introduce a new and expanded player assessment tool designed to offer a much more robust and comprehensive assessment of a player’s non-physical capabilities, aptitudes, and strengths. This tool was developed by Harold Goldstein, Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Baruch College, City University of NY. Professor Goldstein is an expert in industrial psychology who has designed employment tests in a variety of other industries and has worked closely with Cyrus Mehri of the Fritz Pollard Alliance.
The assessment tool being introduced at the Combine is not intended to displace anything currently in use or substitute for other tests that are given either at the Combine or by the clubs themselves. Rather, this new test measures a wide range of competencies, including learning styles, motivation, decision-making skills, responding to pressure or unexpected stimuli, and core intellect. It was developed after detailed discussions with current and former league executives, including Ernie Accorsi, Thomas Dimitroff, John Elway, and Jerry Reese, and was reviewed by members of the general managers Advisory Committee.
This is an exciting innovation that brings updated best practices from corporate America to the NFL football operations. By giving clubs new and more relevant information, it offers additional information to supplement your decision-making in the draft. One of the most interesting aspects is that new information on player learning styles can potentially help our coaches’ work more effectively with young players.
We look forward to reviewing and receiving your feedback later this year and incorporating it into future versions of this assessment tool.
In working with Psychologists, the NFL is clearly making an effort to improve the amount of information that teams have access to regarding potential draft selections. The Wonderlic was often criticized as a sole means of judging the cognitive ability of a player, so there was certainly room for improvement in this area. The new aptitude test is reported to differ from the Wonderlic in that it is meant to judge specific cognitive strengths and weaknesses, rather than overall cognitive ability.
The NFL has also announced that this new aptitude test will be administered in a classroom, much like the Wonderlic. Also like the Wonderlic, the results will be confidential. To further protect confidentiality, Steve Wyche of NFL.com has reported that the results will only be shared with “one or two” team executives. Wyche also reports that the test will be 60 minutes long, and that there will be “no way” players will be able to study or prepare for the test. The NFL will work with psychologists to grade the tests, and the results may help to provide teams with a better idea of whether a player will fit into their organizations culture and with a particular coaching style.
From an NFL Combine Results perspective, we will have to wait and see what sort of information is released. From what we can gather, it sounds like the new aptitude test is somewhat of a hybrid between a personality test and an intelligence test that gauges different types of intelligence. If the test is effective, that information will likely be very valuable to NFL teams and possibly researchers as well.