Memo warns teams on score leaks
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has sent a memo to all 32 teams threatening "significant discipline" to anyone caught leaking confidential information gathered on draft prospects to the public.
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The Associated Press obtained the memo, which was sent on Wednesday night after reports that LSU defensive back Morris Claiborne allegedly scored poorly on the Wonderlic test. The exam is used by NFL teams to try to gauge a prospect's intelligence, problem-solving ability and cognitive skills.
Claiborne scored a 4 out of 50 on the test administered at the NFL scouting combine in February, sources confirmed to ESPN.
League rules prohibit officials from disclosing the results, but scores have routinely been leaked for years, both of the very poor and very high variety.
In his memo, Goodell stresses that Wonderlic scores, personal and family histories and drug tests are to be kept strictly confidential.
Every year, NFL draft prospects take the Wonderlic test at the scouting combine in February. Here are some exam basics:
• Measures cognitive ability
• 50 questions answered in 12 minutes
• Scores weigh difficulty of question, pattern of answers (not number of questions answered correctly)
• First used by NFL in 1970s
• Most popular pre-employment test in use today
"You should be reminded that disclosure of inappropriate private or confidential information concerning draft-eligible players is conduct detrimental to the league and will be met with significant discipline when a violation can be established," Goodell wrote.
Much of the information is collected at the annual combine in February. But every year, as the draft gets closer, some teams and officials leak certain information in part to possibly influence how the draft plays out.
A poor Wonderlic score or a failed drug test could significantly hurt a player's stock and change the perception of that player with the fan base of the team that chooses him.
"Bear in mind that the publicly disclosed information is frequently inaccurate, incomplete or misleading, and often results from an effort of an individual to advance a self-interested goal," Goodell wrote.
"What is lost in the pursuit of that goal is concern for the reputation and well-being of the young men who have worked so hard to reach their own goal of becoming an NFL player and concern for the reputation of the NFL and our game."
The first round of the NFL draft will be held this year on Thursday, April 26, with the draft continuing through Friday and Saturday. Now that the calendar has turned to April, the smokescreens, negotiations and subterfuge are only expected to heat up.
The players' union, players and some agents have been irked by the lack of discretion in the past, which can be difficult to police. Goodell felt it necessary to send a reminder of the rules that are in place.
"Disclosing this confidential information about draft-eligible players to the public can be extremely damaging to players, clubs, and the league," he wrote.
Claiborne's score is the lowest reported result of a draft prospect since Iowa State running back Darren Davis reportedly received a 4 in 2000.
In 2006, quarterback Vince Young, who was the third overall pick by the Tennessee Titans, reportedly scored a 6 on his initial test before retaking it and scoring a 16. Quarterback Dan Marino also scored a 16 and went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Miami Dolphins.
Claiborne's agent, Bus Cook, said Tuesday that he hadn't heard about Claiborne's test score.
"I haven't talked to anybody about it. All I know is that (Claiborne) was from a complicated defensive system and he flourished in it. I've never seen any sort of deficiency in him," Cook told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. "I'm sitting here in shock at what you're telling me. And if it is true, how does that get out? I thought the commissioner was going to put safeguards on this information and there would be severe discipline if it ever did get out.
"I don't know if he scored a 4 or a 40. All I know is he's a great kid, he's smart, and I've been thoroughly impressed with everything about him."
An LSU source told ESPN's Joe Schad that Claiborne is a "visual learner."
"Mo has a high football IQ," the source said. "He just learns in a different way. He's a visual learner. He can handle playbook and scheme in the NFL."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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