The Ideal Prospect?

Mike Holmgren has talked about adding a quarterback to develop in the draft in the later rounds. How about a record-setting passer who doubles as a 4.0 student? He's got all that and the requisite childhood Bernie Kosar jersey...

If Mike Holmgren is looking for a developmental quarterback late in the draft, as he suggest, one player could jump off that list. And he's even a life-long Browns fan.

"Tim Hiller," a respected NFL source told Scout.com's Packer Report.

The 6-foot-4 Hiller is rated as a late-round prospect by Scout.com draft analyst Chris Steuber, in part because of major injuries to both knees during his record-setting career at Western Michigan.

But Hiller has every other trait teams like the Browns covet in their quarterbacks.

Intelligence: A perfect 4.0 grade-point average through college.

Toughness: He played the final three games of the 2008 season with a torn ACL, had surgery and returned in time to start all 12 games as a senior.

Productivity: He threw for 11,329 yards and 99 touchdowns in his three-and-a-half seasons as the starter. He threw the ball well at the Scouting Combine and impressed scouts with better-than-expected footwork.

Character: He won the Wuerffel Trophy, which was created by former Packers and Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel and goes to the collegiate player who best combines community service with academic and athletic excellence.

While rookie quarterbacks enter the NFL facing an enormous learning curve, Hiller would arrive in Cleveland well ahead of the game after running the West Coast offense rather than the spread offenses that are dominating the college level. Hiller, who has furthered his West Coast knowledge this offseason by working with coaching guru Norm Chow and former Browns quarterback Ty Detmer, said he was in charge of changing protections, routes and plays at the line of scrimmage for the Broncos.

"I feel it is a huge advantage," Hiller told us last week. "Having been under center and doing a lot of play action and things like that, I definitely think it prepares me well. The thing is, you don't have much time to learn. The learning curve is steep and it's short. You've got to learn quickly. You can't just be a sponge and soak it in. You've got to be able to translate it onto the field and show you can produce. That's something that I feel I can do early in my career and be a reliable guy for whoever gives me a shot."

Hiller started seven games as a true freshman in 2005. His No. 1 target was a senior, Greg Jennings, who Hiller has been in contact with during the draft process.


Tim Hiller
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
"Greg was a phenomenal player," Hiller said. "He had the ability — and did it several times when I was throwing to him — to take a 5-yard route or screen and turn it into a 60-, 65-yard play or even score. Greg has handled his business the right way. He's a man of high character and faith's important to him. He's just a guy that I admire. Everything he's done, he deserves, because he's done everything the right way."

Hiller injured his right knee in the 2005 season finale and sat out the 2006 season as he rehabbed from surgery. He came back in 2007 with 3,021 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He put himself on the NFL radar in 2008, when he led the Broncos to a bowl game with career bests of 36 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 64.9 percent accuracy and 3,725 yards. With a lesser supporting cast around him as a senior, Hiller's numbers suffered (3,249 yards, 60.1 percent, 23 touchdowns, 13 interceptions).

What didn't suffer was Hiller's performance off the field, where he was a straight-A student while working toward his master's degree in business administration. He and his fiancee are active in the campus' chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

"It wasn't something that I set out to do as a goal," Hiller said of his 4.0 GPA. "I'm a very goal-oriented person. I expected to get a high grade-point average. It was one of those things, after a couple semesters of playing and achieving a 4.0, my mind-set was, if I can achieve that, why would I settle for anything less?"

While not exactly a power conference, the MAC has churned out plenty of top quarterbacks, a list led by Ben Roethlisberger and Chad Pennington. Hiller and touted Central Michigan touchdown machine Dan LeFevour hope to be next on that list.

"I feel fortunate to have played in this conference with so many great players that have come before — guys like the Marshall guys, (Byron) Leftwich and Pennington; Ben Roethlisberger; Charlie Batch played at Eastern Michigan; Charlie Frye; Bruce Gradkowski," Hiller said. "The list goes on and on. Our conference tends to be a passing conference. In this league, you've got guys with a lot of responsibility placed on their shoulders at the line of scrimmage. I think that forces you to prepare well and be well-schooled, and I think that translates to the next level."

Hiller and his fiancee are set to be married on May 29. With minicamps and offseason workouts, the honeymoon will have to wait until July. Hiller, who generally watches the draft to see where his former teammates have landed, said he'd probably spend this draft weekend playing golf.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a focused person," he said. "I'm just focusing on the here and now. It's something that I've always dreamed about. I love this game and I feel like I'm wired to continue playing it for quite a while. I'm all in."

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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