By William Potter on July 20, 2014
While there is still the stereotype of the dumb football player, many NFL players have managed to prove their intellectual might. Through the Wonderlic test, some stars have shown genius-level intellects and, while that doesn't necessarily translate to success, it's never a bad thing. When it comes to brain power, these are the players who stand above all others.
As expected, quarterbacks are typically some of the smartest players in the league, and Rodgers is no exception. On the Wonderlic, he scored a 35 (out of 50), which is well above the quarterback average of 24 (according to a study by Best Masters Degrees). In addition to his book smarts, Rodgers has shown excellent judgement both on and off the field, further solidifying his place amongst the league's brightest stars.
It shouldn't be a surprise that Luck is one of the smarter guys in the league, considering how quickly he developed. He scored a 37 on the Wonderlic and has a degree from Stanford University in Architectural Design. He adapted quickly as a rookie, proving that his intellect extends from the classroom to the football field.
While the trend suggests that quarterbacks are getting smarter, the opposite seems true for wide receivers. The average Wonderlic score for a receiver is 17, which is the equivalent to that of a security worker (according to the Best Masters Degrees survey), but Johnson is the big exception. He scored a 41 on the test, and there may not be a receiver with a higher football IQ.
If you've never heard of Walters, you're not alone. He's a little-known receiver for Seattle, whose playing time has been limited and sporadic. The important thing about Walters is that he's seriously smart. As a senior at Cornell, he was elected to the Sphinx Head Society, one of the oldest and most respected college societies.
Centers have long been considered some of the smarter guys in the huddle. Mangold may be the smartest center in the game, as he scored a 35 on the Wonderlic (ten points higher than the average center) which is higher than the average systems analyst (32). Mangold has never been known for his dominating physical ability, but he understands the game better than most and uses that knowledge to his advantage.
Yes, he got arrested, but smart has never been synonymous with perfect. Bryant was awarded an academic scholarship to attend Harvard. As expected, players from Harvard tend to be some of the smartest out there, but he was only the 29th from the school to make it to the NFL.
This may come as a surprise, but Peyton Manning did not blow anyone away on the Wonderlic. He scored a slightly-above-average 28. To put that in perspective, Eli Manning scored a 39 and Ryan Leaf scored a 27. It's his game planning and football IQ that make Peyton Manning one of the smartest guys in the league, not his book smarts.
Before his last season in San Francisco, fans might be surprised to hear that Smith is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league. But since his turnaround, it makes sense. He scored a 42 on the Wonderlic and has shown tremendous decision-making skills as the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs. He doesn't make mistakes on the field, which is a result of his sky-high IQ.
Watson's heyday may be long gone, but that doesn't mean his brain function has diminished at all. He scored a 48 on the Wonderlic (the average for a tight end is 22) and is rumored to have an IQ of 172. He began his college career at Duke before transferring to Georgia and was a Finance major. It's scary to think about a monstrously-sized business genius.
With his 48 Wonderlic score, Fitzpatrick is one of the smartest quarterbacks in history. As an Economics major at Harvard, he was the 2004 MVP of the Ivy League. He also managed to score nearly perfect on the SAT with a 1580. His intellect hasn't translated to much football success yet, but a smart quarterback is never a bad thing.
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