A study released by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) should give Geno Smith, Manti Te'o and Tyrann Matthieu some hope for their NFL future.

Research conducted by several WPI students found that there's more value in second-round draft picks than in first-rounders. Players selected in the second round, the study finds, had 70 percent of the production of first-round picks at 40 percent of the salary.

Craig Wills, who heads the WPI's Institute of Computer Science, thought of the idea of rating draft picks after the 2012 draft.

“I was driving home thinking about all the pundits that come forward with their grades," Wills told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. "'This team got an A, this team got a C,' and I'm thinking, ‘They don't know. The only way you can evaluate how well a team has done is to look at it historically, after the fact.' So that was the impetus for the idea of how can we look at how well teams have done and look at it relative to how much cost they’ve expended to acquire these players."

For their study, which examined players drafted between 2000 and 2012, researchers used two metrics to measure a player's success. The first was Approximate Value, a statistic developed by Doug Drinen, founder of profootballreference.com, which assigns value to a player's performance during a season. Under this measurement, Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Russell Wilson were the highest rated players from last year's draft.

The other metric was "Appearance Value," a combination of games played, games started and "recognition" (Pro Bowl selections or other honors). Griffin III, Morris and Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh rated highly in this category.

The researchers found the Pittsburgh Steelers to be the most cost-effective team since 2000. They're followed by the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers. The St. Louis Rams and the Cleveland Browns were at the bottom of the league.

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