Former Iowa guard Sean Welsh says he could play center in the NFL Mark Emmert/Hawk Central
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — For Sean Welsh, the value of the NFL Scouting Combine was the fact that he was invited at all.
It shows that the former Iowa guard is on the radar of NFL teams, which makes him a likely draft pick next month. But there was little that Welsh could have showed in Friday’s individual drills that would have raised his status.
His numbers were, as expected, middle of the pack among the offensive line group: a 5.43-second 40-yard dash; 7.9 seconds in the three-cone drill; 20 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press; a 25-inch vertical jump and a 103-inch broad jump.
“He doesn’t have super-rare measurable, super-rare athletic traits. So this will be more about game film, getting into camp, competing and trying to earn a roster spot,” said ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen.
The good news for Welsh is the film will show a smart, veteran player who doesn’t make mistakes. He was an anchor of the Hawkeye offensive line throughout his career, playing every position except left tackle.
Bowen said Welsh may follow a similar career path as former Hawkeye Austin Blythe, who has made two NFL starts at center in his two seasons. They are even the identical size — 6-foot-3, 300 pounds.
“He’s a technique-sound, disciplined, tough football player,” said Bowen, who saw Welsh compete at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, in January. “I think he battled in Mobile. That doesn’t mean he won every rep. But he didn’t lose every rep either.”
Josh Liskiewitz, who analyzes Big Ten Conference players for Pro Football Focus, said Welsh would have had to run a sub-5 second 40 in order to really turn heads here. Welsh could still help himself by running a 1.7-second first 10 yards in that drill at Iowa’s Pro Day on March 26 (he was at 1.82 Friday).
“Offensive linemen aren’t running 40 yards, and if they are it’s not a function of blocking,” Liskiewitz noted. “But that 10-yard, that’s based off of explosion off the snap, so you can learn a little more off of that.”
There’s also a value for Welsh in what went on behind the scenes in Indianapolis.
“The primary reasons you’re here is the medical evaluations and all the interviews with the teams,” Liskiewitz said. “He could have really helped himself, and we wouldn’t know it.”