When it comes to the NFL Draft, few have a better track record than Colts president Bill Polian.

Bill Polian has had some shaky drafts of late. In 2004 he hit on Bob Sanders, but not much else.

His decision making led the Buffalo Bills to four Super Bowls, quickly built the Panthers from scratch, and resurrected a struggling Colts franchise.

Look up any recent article regarding the draft and Polian will likely be a primary source.

Don’t get me wrong, the guy is good – really good. But it seems the media dwells only on his hits and never on his misses – and there have been quite a few of late.

Just one player remains on the team from the 2004 draft – Bob Sanders – and he can’t stay on the field. Of the nine players drafted that year, only two – Sanders and Jake Scott – have proved to be starting-caliber players. Polian made a mistake by letting Scott walk a couple years ago. Instead he signed Ryan Lilja to a long-term contract. Lilja was recently released while Scott helped pave the way for Chris Johnson’s record-breaking season last year in Tennessee.

The 2005 draft wasn’t much better.

First-round pick Marlin Jackson looked promising, but injuries have derailed his career. He started just seven games over the past two seasons and wasn’t retained this offseason. Injuries have also been a problem for the Colts’ second-round pick that year – Kelvin Hayden. He has been a solid pick, but not spectacular.

The remaining eight picks from the 2005 draft were disappointing to say the least. None of them remain on the roster. In fact, none of them have found much success in the NFL at all.

The 2006 draft was better. Three players remain on the team and are all currently starters – Joseph Addai (first round), Charlie Johnson (sixth round), and Antoine Bethea (sixth round).

But second-round pick Tim Jennings – now with the Bears – and third round pick Freddy Keiaho – an uncoveted free agent – have been average at best.

The 2007 draft was a mixed bag. First-round pick Anthony Gonzalez had a solid first two years, but missed virtually all of last season to injury. The Colts traded up to get tackle Tony Ugoh in the second round, and he looks like a bust.

Third-round picks Dante Hughes and Quinn Pitcock were both disasters, though Polian found a fourth-round gem in linebacker Clint Session.

Polian’s drafts from 2004-07 aren’t particularly impressive. Yet, his mistakes are rarely mentioned.

It’s too early to analyze the last two drafts, but there are some obvious hits and misses. The Colts’ first pick in 2008 – offensive lineman Mike Pollak – has been disappointing, but still has time to prove himself. Nobody else from that draft looks to have much potential, aside from sixth-round pick Pierre Garcon.

Early results show last year’s draft could be one of Polian’s best of late. Donald Brown (first round) and Austin Collie (fourth round) should be key components of the Colts’ offense moving forward, while cornerback Jerraud Powers (third round) performed beyond expectations and will likely start next season.

But even when Polian doesn’t have his best draft, his ability to find late-round talent and undrafted free agent talent is undeniable.

Since 2003, Polian has drafted the following players in the fifth round or later – Cato June, Robert Mathis, Scott,  Johnson, Bethea, and Garcon.

Undrafted free agents picked up by Polian during his time with the Colts include Jeff Saturday, Gary Brackett, Raheem Brock, Melvin Bullitt, and Jacob Lacey.

Peyton Manning only has a few prime years left and it’s up to Polian to fill some of the holes around him through the draft. We’ll see if he can rekindle the magic.

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