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Falcons owner Arthur Blank on drafting college graduates

I maintain a variety of RSS feeds, and one of them is for Pro Football Talk. They throw a lot of useless crap against the wall, but they provide a variety of interesting links on occasion. Last night I came across an interesting link posted by Michael David Smith. Smith linked to a Q&A Falcons owner Arthur Blank conducted with an Atlanta newspaper. The newspaper mentioned that the Falcons draft seemed to focus on players who had graduated from college and guys who generally did well academically. Blank had the following to say:

Today's game, as time goes on, is getting more and more sophisticated. Not just the size of the playbook, but the complexity of the playbook with the schemes, the number of coaches and the complexity of the way they are coaching today. The players' ability to understand what's in front of them and react within a quarter of a second. Frankly, to play in the NFL today you have to be smart. It's not just being football smart. You have to be smart. We look for players that represent the organization well both on the field and off the field. That's always been an important part of my philosophy and an important part about what this franchise is about. It's about winning on the field and it's about winning off the field as well. I'm proud of our players on both accounts.

This is an interesting topic that I don't think is mentioned all that much in the NFL. Of course, we as 49ers fans have heard a bit about it in regards to QB Alex Smith. Smith is considered a very smart individual, graduating early from Utah with a degree in economics. Of course, he's struggled at times to make the transition to NFL quarterback.

However, this post is not about the usual rehashing of arguments. Rather, I'm curious where intelligence fits into the game of football. For a quarterback it seems incredibly important. You've got monstrous playbooks, the ability to make quick reads and decisions both at the line for audibles, and after the snap. We hear about some QBs that perform poorly on the Wonderlic, but really, how useful can that be? There is some value to it, but at the same time, Dan Marino scored a 16 (out of 50) and he turned out ok. It's hard to make a definitive conclusion about how smart somebody has to be to play in the NFL. We hear reports about this and that, but how much do we know about the intelligence of many NFL players? And where does that intelligence fit into their performance on the field?