When Jimmy Johnson came to the Cowboy in 1989, he inherited a roster that was devoid of talent. He remarked, only half-kiddingly, that he thought his University of Miami teams might well have beaten the '89 Cowboys. So, when he was tasked with rebuilding that moribund Dallas roster, Johnson imported a lot of former Hurricanes; in five seasons, Johnson drafted eight players from "the U" and traded for or otherwise acquired five others. He also inherited Michael Irvin, who the Cowboys drafted the year before Johnson arrived.

By the time the team was rolling, only four of these guys were still on the roster. But all of those Hurricanes helped Johnson (and his coaching staff, which was largely comprised of men who had coached with him in Miami) turn the thing around. Not only did these players upgrade the talent level, they also helped add stability. While not all of them were the most talented guys (three of his draftees never made the team), they were known commodities: Johnson knew exactly what he was going to get from them in terms of buy-in, determination, and perseverance.

We've seen a similar operation more recently in Cowboys history. In 2009, tight ends coach John Garrett, who, before coming to Dallas coached at the University of Virginia, persuaded the team to draft Cavaliers tight tend John Phillips in the sixth round- and was instrumental in bringing wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, another UVA alum, into the fold as an undrafted free agent. Given the cost, both ended up offering the team good value.

Because the team doesn't tend to hire coaches fresh from the collegiate ranks, such "insider trading" doesn't happen with great frequency. When it does, it often happens in the later rounds. In 1989, for instance, Johnson drafted Miami linebackers Rod Carter and Randy Shannon in the tenth and eleventh rounds, respectively. In the seven-round era, as we have seen,Phillips was a late-rounder and Ogletree was an UDFA.