One thing that is never discussed in the media is how Jason Garrett improves Jerry Jones as a GM.
One of Jerry Jones's biggest flaws as a GM is that falls in love with players and/or making the big kill leading up to the draft.
This translates into the fact that if you look back all the way to the Parcells era, Dallas has had 20 picks --- among the fewest cumulative total of picks in the top 100 spots of those drafts. (And while I am not going to add them all up, I think others have tracked it and the total is actually the absolute fewest in the league).
2007 1 26 Anthony Spencer DE
2007 3 67 James Marten T
2008 1 22 Felix Jones RB
2008 1 25 Mike Jenkins DB
2008 2 61 Martellus Bennett TE
2009 3 69 Jason Williams LB
2009 3 75 Robert Brewster T
2010 1 24 Dez Bryant WR
2010 2 55 Sean Lee LB
Start of Garett-influence draft era
2011 1 9 Tyron Smith OL
2011 2 40 Bruce Carter LB
2011 3 71 DeMarco Murray RB
2012 1 6 Morris Claiborne DB
2012 3 81 Tyrone Crawford DE
2013 1 31 Travis Frederick OL
2013 2 47 Gavin Escobar TE
2013 3 74 Terrance Williams WR
2013 3 80 J.J. Wilcox DB
2014 1 16 Zack Martin OL
2014 2 34 Demarcus Lawrence DE
In theory, you should pull in 3 top 100 collegiate prospects every year. These guys should be the core of your team. They should be the stars, starters, and heavy usage backups.
They should not be on other rosters and in general they should be playing in the league.
Every one of those picks is a contributor in the Garrett era. Why? Because unlike most NFL coaches Garrett's family comes out of the scouting ranks. Where Wade Phillips took whoever he was given, Garrett has subtly pushed for better communication between the coaches (what they want) and the scouts. There is generally consensus now. Everyone is working to execute the same plan.
(Now this was far from seamless and it is inaccurate to present this as some master plan come together. There was a catalyst. In 2013, the scouting department famously desperately wanted DT Sharif Floyd as he tumbled down the draft board and the coaching department didn't.)
As a result there is now a guy in place who coordinates that an makes a strong recommendation to Jerry on draft day. That helps the Cowboys throughout the draft. You will never convince me that Jason Garrett --- The Jerry Whisperer --- didn't play a big role in this procedural change.
But it is still unlikely that Jerry Jones' tendencies to turn 3 top 100 picks into two will ever be curbed. With that in mind, unless the Cowboys change the way they approach free agency (story for another post), they will always have less quality depth than their opposition. At their weakest starting spots and when depth comes in, Dallas will put free agents and 5th through 7th round picks up against opponents 2nd through 5th rounders.
It is why Dallas has generally had poor depth since Parcells left.
"The Right Kind of Guy"
Jason Garrett is a big advocate of "the right kind of guy" and I think this is where the brilliance of Garrett really improves Jerry the GM.
Jerry traditionally has taken flyers on guys with talent but 10 cent brains from the 4th round on. I think Garrett has sold him on drafting team captains with lesser talent with those slots. I think this last draft is a blueprint of what we will see from here on out from the Cowboys in the Garrett era.
That philosophy is a good way to build depth. If you know Mr. Jones is given to turning 3 into 2 at the top of the draft, it makes a world of sense to bring in 5-7 guys who will pick up the coaching, work hard, and at least tackle well.
If you know you are going to have a talent mismatch in the bottom 2/3 of your roster, it makes a world of sense to stock it with the hardest playing "scrubs" you can get.