It’s no shock that we’ve been high on Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young around here for some time now. While there are knocks on the NCAA star, most notably his height and weight, there is so much more that goes into quarterbacking a championship team than just physical stature.
One of the predictors of NFL success is brain power. Not just how smart a player is, but how their mind works. The measure of a good computer, an item that was once an novelty and is now indispensable in modern life, falls into 2 categories: how much information can it retain (hard drive) and how fast can it apply that information to complete a task (processor speed).
The NFL used to swear by the Wonderlic Contemporary Cognitive Ability Test, touted for it’s alleged ability to perform as “the single-best predictor of job performance.” And, for decades NFL teams believed that was true. The Wonderlic measures hard drive space.
Unfortunately, there were... aberrations... and some players who scored high washed out, some who didn’t score so high excelled and the results vs on field success showed up as a total mixed bag.
Enter the S2 Cognition test, a new breed of cognitive measurement designed specifically for athletes. S2 measures processor speed.
S2’s technology platform brings visibility to an athlete’s cognitive skill sets and identifies their strengths, weaknesses, and the “whys” behind their performance. Here is how the process works...
The difference in the 2 tests was summarized on Reddit recently (so, trust but verify):
For those who don’t have a subscription:
The S2 test measures how quickly you can process information whereas the Wonderlic measures how much information you can retain.
So how quickly can you read what opposing defenses are doing versus your knowledge of the playbook and schemes.
Drew Brees is a notable example of a QB who had good Wonderlic but exceptional S2. He was outstanding in his pre-snap diagnosis.
Other recent examples of players who tested well are Joe Burrow, Josh Allen & Patrick Mahomes.
FWIW: last year was the worst ever testing, while this year is the best on record.
Bleacher Report recapped an Around the NFL Podcast where Daniel Jeremiah dug into the top dog in this year’s NFL rookie QB crowd.
Alabama star Bryce Young reportedly had the highest S2 cognition score among all quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL draft class.
Appearing on the Around the NFL podcast, NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah revealed Young had the best score on the mental-processing exam.
Per the S2 cognition website, athletes will take a test that typically lasts between 30-45 minutes on a specialized laptop computer that “measures how they process and make split-second decisions in their sport.”
Jeremiah noted the test is still relatively new to the NFL and has become a popular method of evaluating quarterbacks’ ability to make quick decisions.
The test recently gained public notoriety when The Athletic’s Matt Barrows reported in February that Brock Purdy had an “elite” score in the mid-90s that was “Drew Brees-like” leading up to the 2022 NFL draft.
According to Jeremiah, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are among the other quarterbacks who tested “off the charts” on the same exam.
Does Bryce Young's S2 cognition score have any affect on your opinion of the QB prospect ahead of this year's #NFLDraft?— SportsRadio 610 (@SportsRadio610) April 5, 2023
Hear the full conversation from The Drive w/ @ClintStoerner, @RealRonTheShow, & @tmilrealdeal here:https://t.co/SWW7n7gmrW pic.twitter.com/ZnXrMtRX2M
But, don’t just take the word of a few jock writers, not to cast aspersions on Jeremiah, Barrows or our local SportsRadio610 heroes.
Brandon Ally, neuroscientist and cofounder of S2 Cognition
The game will never be too fast for Brock, I’ll say that, I don’t think he’ll ever have trouble adjusting.
For those who don’t remember, one of the more famous “Top 2 Quarterbacks” in the NFL draft dramas featured Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. For months leading up to the draft, the media churned back and forth on which player was best equipped to light the NFL on fire. Leaf scored a 27 on the Wonderlic, Manning a 28. The closeness of the 2 scores was one of many chinks in the Wonderlic armor, however Manning still outshined Leaf.
For reference, Deshaun Watson scored a 20 on the Wonderlic.
Now, the cognition tests don’t account for character flaws, particularly those on full display over Leaf’s brief NFL career. But, Young has shown no signs of those sorts of issues. And just like Manning, it’s a better bet to take the guy with the higher score - particularly with a test geared towards high level athletes.
Why the Houston Texans Need to Draft Bryce Young
If you’ve been following this team for any amount of time, you know what a poor cognitive quarterback effort looks like - see: [NAME REDACTED]. You’re also well aware of how massive, Ryan Leaf-level character flaws manifest - see: Watson. And, how high brain power can elevate a player beyond their physical abilities - see Ryan Fitzpatrick.
This year, that brain power resides inside the helmet of Bryce Young. And, he has the physical skills closer to Watson than [REDACTED]. Drafting Young seems like a no-brainer... no pun intended. How many of us have mentioned the desire to have a young Fitzmagic mind in a Watson body?
Unfortunately for Houston general manager Nick Caserio, the Carolina Panthers hold the #1 pick in this month’s NFL draft and they got the news on Young as well.
Daniel Jeremiah accidentally leaked that Bryce Young scored highest in class on the S2 Cognition test.— Edgar Salmingo, Jr. ✌️ (@PanthersAnalyst) April 4, 2023
S2 measures how quickly athletes process information. Brock Purdy had the high score last year.
Notable elite scorers: Justin Fields, Joe Burrow, Drew Brees, and Josh Allen. pic.twitter.com/hWNvqHrGbS
Young has the physical tools, developed skills, X-factor and cognitive ability necessary to succeed in the NFL. If Laremy Tunsil and crew can earn their paychecks and keep the rook safe, he might just be the QB Houston has been looking for since Bob McNair brought football back to town.