6 min min read

Using Athletic Intelligence Quotient to Find Draft Diamonds in the Rough

Film, stats, awards, word of mouth. Front offices leave no stone left unturned when evaluating potential draft prospects. The typical evaluation process has been refined to almost a science, but how does the front office evaluate a player’s ability to play if they were in a very specific system? How do they evaluate the ability to go through reads or plan out their next cut or navigate a punt return? Especially in a year in which COVID has taken down the sample size of film to watch and stats created.


Dr. Scott Goldman, Ph.D., a sport psychologist who has spent the past 20 years working for NFL and NBA teams as well Power 5 Athletic Departments along with his partner Dr. James Bowman, PsyD have developed a test with this specific question in mind. He calls it the Athletic Intelligence Quotient. See this Video for a full explanation of what the AIQ is. We will be presenting a full series on what the AIQ is, how it was created and how teams can leverage its information over the next few weeks.


Scott feels that AIQ cuts through the noise and boosts the signal. This will show you traits to look for that maybe a team's scheme or a player's film did not give them the opportunity to show. The AIQ could possibly confirm your gut feelings on a player.

In the meantime, here are some 2021 NFL Draft prospects who performed well in the AIQ – and thus may make a bigger impact than expected.

Hidden Gems


Avery Williams, CB, Boise State

33rd Team Scouting Report:

Redshirt senior and former walk-on who has started 44 of 48 career games, including 7 of 7 in 2020. Primary punt returner all 4 years, also handling most of KR duties in 2017 and 2020 with 9 total TDs. 5 career blocked kicks. Takes frequent snaps isolated and some Slot snaps. Primarily from Press, responsibilities included Man, Pattern Match, Curl/Flat zone, and Robber. Developmental Slot CB you can win despite of and Starting PR you can win because of. Tiny corner who has athleticism, intelligence, and attitude to last in the league. Explosive as a returner and shows flashes of ability as a slot defender. Awesome hustle…Lack of size and length create huge imbalance against NFL receivers, and doesn’t currently show technique or processing to compensate. -Peter Engler


AIQ Assessed Strengths:

● His visual spatial processing.

● His ability to see a play unfold in his mind's eye.

● His ability to find the quickest route to his desired destination.

● His ability to make quick and accurate decisions.

● His ability to freely locate important information.

When you go back and watch the film on Williams you see, particularly in the return game, all of the things he has excelled at in the AIQ testing.


Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech

33rd Team Scouting Report:

Herbert is an exceptionally tough back asked to be the lead blocker on many situations while at VT. He will show drive and ability to be a lead blocker with a solid base, while delivering contact, notwithstanding it. He shows explosive nature at the second level with the ability to switch gears quickly and cut off pursuit angles with his avoid speed. Ultimately, he is inconsistent in his gap recognition, his sink into his cuts and his patience behind the LOS. He was rarely used as a pass catcher but could be on the field on 3rd down due to pass blocking skills. - Ben Elsner

AIQ Assessed Strengths:

● Based on his high scores on measures of visual spatial processing, he is likely to possess strong field presence and awareness.

● His performance on a measure of his ability to see a play unfold in his mind's eye.

● His ability to find the shortest route to his destination, while avoiding obstacles.


Again we see the AIQ and scouting meet. Herbert is a running back who will be able to work through traffic, whether that be avoiding tacklers or finding the correct player to block.

Noteworthy players, with descriptions of their AIQ:


Chris Rumph II, OLB, Duke

33rd Team Scouting Report:

Rumph is an Edge player with top end speed, explosiveness and athleticism. Explosive out of the stance and uses quick hands when initiating contact with the blocker. Uses an array of pass rush moves. One of the best swim moves I've seen. Can swipe hands, swim, rip to disengage. Projects as a 3-4 OLB similar to Josh Uche from 2020.


AIQ Assessed Strengths:

● Based on his high scores on measures of visual spatial processing, he is likely to possess strong field presence and awareness.

● This player's ability to see a play unfold in his mind's eye.

● This athlete's ability to react immediately to stimuli.

● His reaction time, without distractors present.

● When distractors are introduced, his reaction time is also strong.


Rumph is a player who has fallen due to his size/frame who I truly believe will be an impact maker from this draft. His mix of being able to understand what he's seeing and diagnosing it matched with his elite athleticism and explosiveness were only questioned by his weight. He weighed in at his pro day at 244lbs, if he can maintain that he will be a difference maker in the NFL.


Javonte Williams, RB, UNC

33rd Team Scouting Report:

Javonte Williams is a back with elite intelligence, effort and instincts which allows him to have the perfect amount of patience behind the LOS and the power to fight on every down. He will be seen falling forward on every rep due to his ability to finish runs, remain balanced, and pick-up extra yards. He needs to improve of his consistency in making hard cuts in the open field as well as his technique in the passing game. He is a RB that could benefit from hundreds of pass catching drills in practice to shift his body catching style more into using his hands. Teams will want him on the field on 3rd down as well as passing situations due to his ability to pass block. Williams is one of the best RBs in this class due to his intelligence (far superior to many CFB RBs) and ability to create extra yards using strength as well as switching from gears 2 to 5 quickly. He should be a round 2 RB and someone a team feels comfortable playing on every down (would be paired beautifully with someone like Tarik Cohen, James White, etc) - Ben Elsner


AIQ Assessed Strengths:

● His speed and accuracy in decision-making is a strong asset

● This player's ability to freely locate important information.

● This player's ability to make two-option decisions.

● His ability to acquire and remember information.

We at the 33rd Team would have probably bet that Javonte would have scored highly on the AIQ due to his film. It seems that if you are a running back who can pass block on film then you will have the spatial processing ability to perform well in these tests and run well through traffic. Williams could be a player who makes a big impact on a team due to his explosive athletic ability paired with his decision making.


Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson

33rd Team Scouting Report:

Powell came on midway through the 2020 season after serving as a backup for most of his career. He showed fantastic balance and body control, ball skills, and speed to operate as a deep threat. He parlayed this late season breakout into a senior bowl spot where he shined. - Stephen Wise


AIQ Assessed Strengths:

● His visual spatial processing.

● His ability to see a play unfold in his mind's eye (Manipulation/Rotation).

● Navigation measures an athlete's ability to find the shortest path to his desired destination.

● His ability to maintain the correct spacing and orientation relative to other players and key landmarks, such as the third-down marker.

● His ability to make quick and accurate two-option decisions.

● A strength is his ability to acquire and remember information. Thus he may need fewer reps to learn plays and skills, and he will recall them appropriately when needed.


Powell's late career explosion for Clemson may have been a surprise to most, but not for those of us looking at the AIQ. Powell is a player with all of the physical tools on tape to play the position at a high level and his brain and processing skills may be a big part of that.