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Next gen technology yields next gen scouting tools: S2 Cognition tests and player performance

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Syndication: The Record Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

For the next few days, the NFL scouting combine will dominate the discussion around the NFL. Indeed, highlights and clips will go viral based on who can run or shuttle very fast or pick up a heavy object many times. However, the NFL is not only a sport predicated on physicality, but also one predicated on fast processing and solid decision making. While the NFL has long been able to measure the physical traits of a player as evidenced by the scouting combine’s existence since 1987, the mental aspect has been tougher to quantify... at least it was.

As outlined by a report from Matt Barrows of The Athletic, NFL teams are widely adopting the use of S2 Cognition Testing during prospect evaluations. S2 Cognition Testing is a test that aims to quantify the processing speed of prospects. Specifically, as written by Barrows, the content of the test is as follows:

The exam lasts 40 to 45 minutes. It’s performed on a specially designed gaming laptop and response pad that can record reactions in two milliseconds. To put that in perspective, an eye blink lasts 100 to 150 milliseconds.

In one section of the exam, a series of diamonds flash on the screen for 16 milliseconds each. Every diamond is missing a point, and the test taker must determine — using left, right, up or down keys — which part is missing.

In another, the test seeks to find out how many objects an athlete can keep track of at the same time. In another, there are 22 figures on the screen and the athlete must locate a specific one as quickly as possible. The object might be a red triangle embedded in other shapes that are also red.

While these non-football tasks may seem like an odd part of a prospect evaluation, it has shown significant success in predicting the performance of various positions, most notably at Quarterback. As detailed by Barrows:

The company recently looked at 27 starting quarterbacks... Of that group, 13 had a career passer rating above 90. The average S2 score of those players was the 91st percentile. Those with passer ratings below 90 had much lower test results.

“Those 14 guys, the average score was in the low 60s,” Ally said.

While the New York Jets are unlikely to be in the market for a rookie QB, this does provide evidence of the test’s utility. Additionally, Barrows’ article highlights that the test is useful for other positions such as safety, cornerback, and inside linebacker, which are positions the Jets may target on draft day.

While the results of these tests nor the ways in which teams build them into evaluations are public knowledge, we can only hope that the Jets are using this and any other useful tools as they seek to identify future NFL stars in this year’s draft.