Thursday, April 21, 2005

Let's talk brains

If I had the ability to blog all day long, the mornings would probably be devoted to Dan Shanoff's errors in the Morning Quickie. I respect how wide a net he casts by 9 every morning, but his takes are so frequently misguided that I get kind of frustrated daily. His quick trigger on the "Best. Ever." line annoys me. And he also seems eager to all the hot thing of the day "the next..." (side note, check out Jen Chang's interview with Argentina great Mario Kempes and how he responds to the question on the "next Maradona")

One thing this week I've noticed (and I might be reading too much) is Shanoff's belief that the steal of the QB class in this year's NFL Draft is Ryan Fitzpatrick of Harvard, to the point of suggesting he's this draft's Tom Brady. First off, Tom Brady is a once in a generation steal. Basically, Brady's talent was hidden by Henson and a run-first offense so he slipped, scouts missed intangibles by looking at pure numbers, then he fell into the perfect situation with the perfect coach in New England. There is not a Tom Brady in every draft. Even if a player of hidden talent slips far in the draft, he might end up in the wrong situation, etc.

Anyway, Shanoff, with the sound of a Northwestern journalism school elitist (read Stewart Mandel), turns to the results of the Wonderlic test to say that Fitzpatrick should be drafted ahead of other quarterbacks (even one who, oh, won more games than any quarterback in Division I-A history...).

So on to the Wonderlic. So much reliance has been placed on it that now agents are training theier players for the test. Who knows whether there's a good correlation between the test and performance.

Here's what I do know: Shanoff was pushing a little when he said Fitzpatrick aced the Wonderlic on Monday. Fitzpatrick took it three times. He scored a 37, a 38, and then finally a 50. The test I believe loses its ability to determine ability after multiple attempts. Jason Campbell doubled his original score after taking it two more times. Taking the test more than once is a new phenomenon, so I think we should consider the scores a little more closely.

Here's a list of the quarterbacks who have scored high on the test over the last few years according to this site which I find very helpful:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard (50 -3rd try)
Alex Smith, Utah (40 -1st)
Aaron Rodgers, Cal (39 - 1st)
Charlie Frye, Akron (38 - 2nd)
Jason Campbell (28 - 3rd)

NFL Starters and Early Round Draft Picks (First time taken unless otherwise noted):

Eli Manning (39)
Phillip Rivers (30)
Ben Roethlisberger (25)
JP Lohsman (31)
Drew Henson (42)
Carson Palmer (26)
Kyle Boller (27)
Byron Leftwich (25)
Rex Grossman (29)
David Carr (24)
Joey Harrington (32)
Patrick Ramsey (32)
Josh McCown (30)
Michael Vick (20)
Drew Brees (28)
Quincy Carter (30)
AJ Feeley (19)
Chad Pennington (25)
Marc Bulger (29)
Tom Brady (33)
Tim Couch (22)
Donovan McNabb (16, but only score 12 the second time)
Akili Smith (37 on second try, but only 15 the first time and many claimed he cheated)
Daunte Culpepper (21, but took it three times and scouts say 15)
Cade McNown (28)
Aaron Brooks (17)
Peyton Manning (???)
Ryan Leaf (???)
Brian Griese (39)
Matt Hasselbeck (29)

Other Recent Starters
Jake Plummer (???)
Kerry Collins (30)
Jeff Garcia (???)
Steve McNair (15)
Trent Dilfer (22)
Drew Bledsoe (37)
Mark Brunell (22)
Brett Favre (22)
Jake Delhomme (???)
Vinny Testaverde (18)
Trent Green (???)

What does it all mean? I'd say not all that much. I think you definitely need more than just a good score on the test to be a great QB. And as teams have weighed the test, the players have merely gotten in shape to take the test, which I think weakens it's import.

So my thesis: Ryan Fitzpatrick might be very smart, but that "perfect score" you'll hear about when he gets drafted Sunday isn't as perfect as one might think. And he still has to have the physical tools, which I'd wager he doesn't have in comparison to the top players on the boards.

And I'd draft Greene ahead of him too.

I promise to have something at least attempting to be funny this weekend...