How Important Are Rookie Tests?

Do you remember the scene in Armageddon, when NASA was putting all those oil rig workers through a battery of tests in that weird room with with all of the pointy spikes on the wall? Don't act like you haven't seen Armageddon. Well those guys were going to space -- that's the place where nobody can hear you scream and the only people who get to go there are Space Marines (to fight aliens) and ex-military pilots to fix satellites.

Over the last few years I feel like the NFL has taken the Michael Bay approach (he directed Armageddon, by the way) when it comes to testing their prospective rookies. They have to take the Wonderlic Test, which is a cognitive ability test, they have to go through the NFL Combine, where they are poked and prodded by NFL scouts and coaches for a week, and then they have to suffer through 800 different team visits, where they're given the Clockwork Orange treatment for all I know.

While all of those tests serve a purpose, how important are they, really?

A.J. Green, who is very likely going to be the Bengals first-round draft pick, isn't a good test taker. In fact, he's awful, but that's not going to stop him from being selected by one of the first few teams in the draft. Green scored the worst score on the Wonderlic than any draft eligible receiver, but when you watch his game film, you know he'd be worth the risk if you were the one doing the picking.

"From everything I'm told, it's not an issue," in the draft, says Todd McShay, ESPN draft analyst. "He has not tested (exceptionally) well at anything for an elite receiver (including during Combine workouts).

"(But) when you study him on film, he is as savvy and football-intelligent as any receiver in this class."

Instead of focusing on the game film, though, some coaches, like the Bengals coaches, are more focused on asking weird questions about moss on trees.

Green recalls meeting the Bengals' representative.

"I walk in and the guy starts firing questions at me: 'What do an apple and a banana have in common? How many days in a year? What do a chair and a table have in common? What do you if you get lost in a forest during the daytime?' "

It was the last one that stumped the receiver.

"I said, 'Follow the sun.' But it was wrong. It's, 'Follow the moss on the trees.' "

How important are the tests? What does moss on trees have to do with A.J. Green beating a defensive back on the football field? The answer to that question, in case you were wondering, is absolutely nothing. Maybe it's just a way to see how a player would react if the team plane crashed in the middle of the woods and he had to make it out, I don't know.

Either way, I wouldn't worry about a player like A.J. Green's test scores. If the Bengals draft him in the first round, and they might, I don't think any amount of pointless tests would stop him from scaring the pants off of AFC North secondaries.

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