NFL to use new aptitude test for players at scouting combine

February 18, 2013

Running back Mark Ingram works out at 2011 NFL scouting combine (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The NFL will use a new test to assess incoming players’ mental abilities beginning at this week’s scouting combine in Indianapolis.

The new aptitude test, called the NFL Player Assessment Test, will not replace the Wonderlic intelligence test but will be used as an intended complement to the Wonderlic, said Washington attorney Cyrus Mehri.

Mehri and Harold Goldstein, an associate professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Baruch College, The City University of New York, developed the new test for the NFL.

“It’s not replacing anything,” Mehri said in a telephone interview. “But we think this will be a good predictor of NFL success. It has breadth to the measurements. It’s intended to look at things like motivation, psychological attributes, processing and applying information quickly, learning styles and what you might call ‘football smarts.’ ”

NFL teams were informed of the new test in a memo sent by the league, and the new test’s use was first reported by the league’s Web site.

College players who are NFL draft hopefuls will take the 60-minute computerized test as part of the array of on-field drills and off-field measurements, tests, medical assessments and interviews in which they participate at the scouting combine.

The new test was developed as an attempt to give teams’ talent evaluators a more complete look at a player’s mental abilities, according to Mehri and the league’s memo.

“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,” the league’s memo to teams said, according to the NFL’s Web site. “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…. By giving clubs new and more relevant information, it offers additional information to supplement your decision-making in the draft.”

Mehri said the new test also will provide guidance to coaches about how a certain player can be taught most effectively.

Mehri has worked closely with people within the league in his role as a leader of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the group formed to monitor the diversity of the NFL’s hiring practices. He and NFL officials discussed the possibility of implementing such a test for several years, he said.

Former NFL general manager Ernie Accorsi and current front-office decision-makers — including John Elway, the Denver Broncos’ executive vice president of football operations, and GMs Jerry Reese of the New York Giants and Thomas Dimitroff of the Atlanta Falcons — were consulted as the test was being developed.

 

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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Mike Jones · February 18, 2013