A study conducted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute says there's more value for second-round draft picks than first-rounders.
The analysis of the past 13 seasons shows that second-rounders provide 70 percent of the production of first-round picks but at just 40 percent of the salary.
"That's a significant value and it tells me that general managers should give more value to second- and third-round picks," said Craig Wills, the head of WPI's Department of Computer Science.
The study by WPI students Casey Barney, Anthony Caravella, Michael Cullen and Gary Jackson also concluded that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been the most cost-effective team in the draft since 2000. The Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers are next, while the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns ranked as least efficient.
As part of the study, WPI researchers developed a football metric called Appearance Score, a weighted combination of games played, games started and recognition as a top player. Highlighting the value of non-first-round picks, two of the top three players in Appearance Score last season were sixth-round draft picks in 2012: Washington running back Alfred Morris and Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh.
Third in the Appearance Score was Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year after being selected second overall in the draft.
In addition to team rankings, researchers focused on positions, and found that safeties provide the greatest value to teams.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.