Time is an aspect of evaluation that we don’t factor in enough. When is the appropriate time to judge a decision properly?
For NFL Draft picks and classes, the rule of thumb is typically after three years. This is when teams can place fifth-year options on their first-round picks, and every player is eligible for second contracts. Three years is also the approximate average length of an NFL career, so it’s commonly accepted as the true point in time to judge draft decisions.
Free agency is treated a bit differently. The players are more or less known commodities, and most of the contracts they sign on the open market don’t end up lasting the originally planned duration.