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Wonderlic, Race, and the NFL Draft

Extending the work of Berri and Simmons on the National Football League (NFL) player draft and the Scouting Combine, the authors use the Wonderlic cognitive ability test to test one implication of a simple Phelps model of statistical discrimination in the NFL draft. The authors treat Wonderlic scores as a noisy signal of a player’s adaptability to the NFL game that may be more informative for White players than it is for Black players. The authors find that Wonderlic scores are important in explaining relative draft position for quarterbacks, offensive linemen, and tight ends. At the same time, the authors find limited evidence to support statistical discrimination based on Wonderlic scores.