C.J. Stroud is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft, projected to be selected as high as No. 1 overall. The Ohio State quarterback appears to hear his name called in the top five of a quarterback class where four signal-callers could actually go in the top five this year.
As the quarterback prospects are highly scrutinized, Stroud may be the questioned the most based on the reports that have come out about him regarding the Manning Passing Academy and his score on the S2 cognitive test. Per The Athletic, the S2 scores of the draft's quarterback prospects were revealed.
Stroud had the lowest score of 18% (out of 100%) while Bryce Young scored the highest at 98. Stroud responded to the low score, saying test taking does not reflect what teams that had him for visits know what he is capable of.
"It's football, I'm not a test taker. ... The people making the picks know what I can do," Stroud said (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press).
How does the S2 Cognition test work? The test, which replaced the Wonderlic, has nine different segments, all of which are graded separately (sort of like the SAT). The measurements used in each section include a quarterback's ability to track multiple objects, make complex decisions, and filter through if/then scenarios with different defensive scenarios -- with an ability to improvise. The test takes 45 minutes and is run through a gaming laptop, ultimately measuring a players' ability to quickly dissect information that appears on the screen in front of them.
This is a different strategy than the Wonderlic test, which is used to measure general cognitive ability in three areas: math, vocabulary, and reasoning. The Wonderlic test has 50 multiple choice questions that are to be answered in 12 minutes (the highest score a player can get is a 50).
Below are the reported S2 Cognition scores for the top quarterbacks:
However, Brandon Ally, co-founder of the S2 Cognition test, says some of the scores are not accurate.
"The day that those leaks happened, my phone was blowing up from general managers and our attorney," Ally said on The Pat McAfee Show this week, via Sports Illustrated. "We can't speak on specifics. What I will say is the list of scores that I have seen, two of those scores are not accurate. They're not accurate at all.
"Some of the reason could be for narrative purposes. The other reason is that they don't have context, so somebody could have gotten a list of very early scores. One of the particular athletes on that list I know had a difficult time making his way to the all-star game, things were delayed. He was in high demand. He was hungry, tired, it was 11 p.m., didn't want to do it. He was frustrated. We administered the test because we're asked to.
"We knew at that point in time, hey, we're going to get you again. We'll get you at your Pro Day, your 30 visit. We did that and his score is significantly higher than what it was being reported in the media. I'm not saying that it was C.J. Stroud. But for context purposes, the scores that were leaked, there are a couple of them that are inaccurate and there needs to be context behind that."
Do these scores mean much at the end of the day? Brock Purdy, the last player taken in the 2022 draft, scored in the mid 90s on the test. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes were also reported to score in the mid 90s on the S2 test.
Mahomes is the first quarterback to win two Super Bowls and two MVPs before the age of 30 while Purdy took the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship Game as a rookie. Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in the game and the only player to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 750 yards in a season multiple times (and accomplished the feat in consecutive years).
The S2 Cognition test is going to stick around, but the league will need a larger sample size to determine if it demonstrates how to pick out a great quarterback. Early returns are certainly promising.