I have huge quibbles with this 'reasonable outlook.' If you're going to look at the effectiveness of teams' draft picks you can't do it in a vacuum. Two thirds of team's first-round picks, collectively, never make it to a probowl. Yet fans consistently have expectations for players that aren't realistic, and end up dissatisfied with effective draft picks as a result.
A very good draft is going to net you three starters and a couple of role players. Two starters and some role players is solid. We'd probably never agree on a metric, but someone with more time on their hands that I have has probably come up with a draft efficiency index that takes %games played/%games started/probowls/time in league/whatever other relevant factors into account.
Failing, that, though, you can at least look at the net players added each of the last three years--this time including the college FA who are, of course, also the by product of the team's scouting and selection process.
1(24) Dez Bryant WR Oklahoma St. - This looks more and more like a bad decision by the day. (He's on track for 80 catches and over 1,000 yards this season. Not what I wanted him to be at this point in his career, but hardly a 'bad decision.')
2(55) Sean Lee ILB Penn St. - Injury concerns but still a hit. (One of the most promising ILBs in the league already, as as second round pick. Yeah. I'd say he was 'a hit.')
4(126) Akwasi Owusu-Ansah CB Indiana (Pa.) - Wasted pick. (Overstatement. He made the roster and was an insignificant role player. He at least played in games in the league for two different teams.
6(179) Sam Young T Notre Dame - Garbage. (Not garbage, but not a successful pick).
6(196) Jamar Wall CB Texas Tech - Couldn't play.
7(234) Sean Lissemore - Looks like a decent role player. Hit. (A 7th round role-player who's working his way into the lineup as a starter, yeah. Looks like a hit).
What's missing from your list for 2010? OC Phil Costa (starting OC), S Barry Church (starting S), S Danny McCray (injury replacement to starting S), FB Chris Gronkowski (minor role player, miss).
1(9) Tyron Smith T USC - Grand Slam. (Not a grand slam in my book. Starter, though).
2(40) Bruce Carter OLB North Carolina - Beast. (Yep.)
3(71) DeMarco Murray RB Oklahoma - Solid pick but injury prone. (This was the steal of the third round, and maybe of the entire draft. Pair him with Smith and Carter, and you've already got your third starter for this year).
4(110) David Arkin T Missouri St. - Can't play. (Overstatement. He's a developing player and not yet a significant role player, but he's in contention for snaps next year, at least as in injury replacement to a starter if not in outright competition for RG next training camp. We knew coming out that he was going to need time in the weight room to develop).
5(143) Josh Thomas CB Buffalo - Swing and a miss.
6(176) Dwayne Harris WR East Carolina - Could be an emerging return man. (Pretty clearly already an emerged return man. Could be an emerging WR).
7(220) Shaun Chapas FB Georgia - Not an NFL player. (He was on the DET practice squad, last I'd heard).
7(252) Bill Nagy C Wisconsin - Shown nothing and injury prone. (If he's shown nothing, I'm curious why the Lions snagged him, injured, when we tried to sneak him through waivers? Because you're understating his ability, that's why).
And, you'd neglected to credit the UDFAs again:
RB Phillip Tanner (backup RB), OC Kevin Kowalski (active on game days once he's back in the rotation?), OLB Alex Albright (getting snaps on teams and in defensive packages), K Dan Bailey (starting kicker, and very good).
1(6) Morris Claiborne CB LSU - Actually cost 1(14) and 2(45). Nice player, waaaaaay overpaid for him. No impact whatsoever. (Nonsense. Starter, with huge potential. Was a tremendous value where he was selected at a position of major need).
3(81) Tyrone Crawford DE Boise St. - Has shown nothing yet to warrant the pick but it's still early. (Has shown plenty. Is already a role player, and someone I think competes for starting snaps as early as next season).
4(113) Kyle Wilber OLB Purdue - Is he on the team? Oh. (Yes, and someone who plays a deep position, missed most of the offseason and then required surgery to repair a broken thumb. We'll see next season what his prospects really are, but you're premature to consider him a miss).
4(135) Matt Johnson S Eastern Washington - Evil Knievel had less injuries. Which could be saving us from seeing he can't play. Like his draft grade outside of Dallas suggests. (No way to say b/c of the injuries. No idea how you've concluded they're masking the fact that he can't play b/c the coaches have been high on him for what little time he's gotten).
5(152) Danny Coale WR Virginia Tech - Practice squad. (Yep)
6(186) James Hanna TE Oklahoma - Hasn't done anything but hasn't had a chance yet either. A complete unknown. (6th round pick that made the team and gets snaps as a role player. That's not nothing).
7(222) Caleb McSurdy ILB Montana St. - Everybody's favorite lunch pail pick. Then camp started. Selling insurance in the fall of 2013.
You're forgetting Beasley (role player on offense), Dunbar (role player on offense), Leary (practice squad) and Benford (practice squad, I think). And now Bass (called up to the active roster).
That's a quality three year run in my book. I think it's a quality run in most books, and it's just that fans have relatively unrealistic expectations for what sort of snaps a drafted player is going to be able to give you.
You can tell when people are walking around calling Marcus Spears a bust that they don't have even a vague idea how difficult it really is to find guys who can stick on your roster for 8-9 seasons. You've only got 22 starting positions + specialty players on a roster for any given year. A lot of those slots are filled by veteran FAs. That doesn't leave too many slots open for 7 full rounds of picks over multiple seasons and including successful college FAs.
“Everything is going good,” Romo said. “I think we’re putting together some ideas that we love, and I feel strongly about certain things that are going to help us. I think it’s just a bunch of guys going to work every day and figuring out ways to be better in a lot of different capacities, from players and coaches, all the way up. It’s exciting." --Tony Romo