Former Iowa guard Sean Welsh says he could play center in the NFL Mark Emmert/Hawk Central
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Sean Welsh looked at the reporters expecting an answer from him at the Indiana Convention Center on Thursday and admitted he was at a loss for words.
“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet that I’m here. For me, I’m just a regular, average Joe from Dayton still,” the former Iowa guard said, referencing his Ohio hometown. “This has just been an incredible experience and I’m humbled to be here. It really is a privilege.”
Welsh is one of the athletes generating minor buzz at the NFL Scouting Combine. And that seems fine by him. He doesn’t need the spotlight, just a spot on a professional team.
He’ll need to address questions about his size (at 6-foot-2, 300 pounds, he’s a bit undersized for an interior offensive lineman) and explosiveness.
But Welsh said he points to his versatility when meeting with NFL scouts. He played every position but left tackle on Iowa’s offensive line in a terrific Hawkeye career.
He touts his durability. Welsh missed only one start with injury.
And he can lean on his mastery of the fundamentals, something Iowa lineman are known for, even if Welsh doesn’t like to make an issue of that.
“It’s not something I bring up. You never want to name-drop or anything like that,” Welsh said of his Hawkeye pedigree. “I want to get by on my merits and what I bring to the table. Whatever reputation there is, that’s nice.”
Welsh is thrilled that he ended up at Iowa. He gave credit to his coaches for helping him get this far. But he knows his NFL fate is in his hands now, starting with a series of drills he’ll be put through Friday morning.
Welsh will need to show that he can change direction efficiently, that he can open his hips, that he can stay low for up to 10 seconds at a time. He knows that some teams will be judging whether his future is at center, and he’s fine with that.
Former Hawkeyes guard Sean Welsh would like to be a resource for NFL teams about mental health issues Mark Emmert/Hawk Central
But he sees himself as something more than a football player. Welsh went public last summer with his battles with depression while at Iowa. He was so gripped by the disease in the spring of 2015 that he had to walk away from the team to get treatment. Every NFL team is aware of it. Welsh doesn’t shy away from discussing it.
“I’ve been very forthright with my experience and it’s something I think is a real crisis in this country. If you look at a lot of recent events, it’s a big issue,” Welsh said. “I basically give them a full rundown of my history, a list of medications I’m on, what I do to manage it. Just to show them that I’m on top of it.”
Welsh said he’d like to be a resource for an NFL team looking to better understand mental health issues and how to help players deal with them. He projects as a late-round draft pick. But his impact can go far beyond the football field.