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40 picks till 12 potential Patriots

Despite holding such potentially enticing trade chips as budding backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler, all was quiet in New England for Thursday's opening night of the 2017 NFL Draft.

While the Browns reportedly once again called about trading for Garoppolo, Bill Belichick's team stood pat without a pick in the first round thanks to a previous trade with the Saints that landed speedy receiver Brandin Cooks in Foxborough.

Heading into Friday night's second evening of action from Philadelphia, New England is also without a second-round pick (Kony Ealy trade). But Belichick and Co. are scheduled to make a pair of selections in the third round, beginning with the No. 72 slot.

Thursday night's fun-filled first round included a surprising early run on offensive players, three teams trading up for seemingly lackluster project quarterbacks and intriguing activity almost everywhere but New England.

Now, a Patriots team that's actually only made two first-round picks in the last five years, is ready to join the draft parade.

With that in mind, here are a couple handfuls of prospects who might still be on the board and make sense when New England finally makes its first pick of draft weekend 2017!

Obi Melifonwu, SS, Connecticut - Melifonwu has all the measurables to be not only an NFL safety but one of the new-age versatile guys to play in the box like a linebacker, a role Belichick has lusted after for years. He's got plenty of experience and is right down the road, although he's probably not going to last to No. 72.

Jordan Willis, DE/OLB, Kansas State- Willis has all the tools as an edge playmaker and most believe he's a top-50 pick. He checks off all the boxes and would look good at the Patriots biggest need if he slips down the board.

Carl Lawson, DE/OLB, Auburn - Lawson is a little shorter than ideal, but he's a proven pass rusher from the SEC who fills the mid-round need.

DeMarcus Walker, DE/OLB, Florida St. - The Seminoles playmaker brings versatility to the defensive line with the ability to play inside and out.

Julien Davenport, T, Bucknell - Certainly the 6-7 Patriot League prospect will need time to develop. But with Nate Solder heading into the final year of his contract, the young Buck' could be a year-too-early answer on the line.

Roderick Johnson, T, Florida State - The Patriots have dipped into the Seminoles line pool in the past and Johnson is another mid-round option if the future of the tackle position is deemed a high priority.

Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State - The Buckeyes defender can do it all in the middle of a defense. He would add depth and insurance behind Dont'a Hightower and might allow the Pro Bowl veteran to be used more on the edge as a pass rusher. (And PFW boss Fred Kirsch wants him!)

Trey Hendrickson, DE/OLB, Florida Atlantic - Hendrickson just screams "Patriots player!" He's 6-4, 260 and ran a 4.6 40, checking all the boxes Belichick has for ideal edge players. He's also a factor blocking kicks on fourth down and occasionally showing versatility as a blocker on offense. Oh, and three years with double-digit sacks. Two Treys may be the future of the New England pass rush.

Derek Rivers, DE/OLB Youngstown State- Rivers is similar to Hendrickson in many ways and drew the Patriots interest in the lead-up to the draft, though he probably has a lower ceiling than some on this list.

Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson- The Tigers specimen has upside as an all-around NFL tight end with potentially elite pass-catching ability. Given Rob Gronkowski's injury history, adding a young prospect with what could be a very bright future could be palatable.

Jake Butt, TE, Michigan - Voted college football's best tight end, Butt would be a value pick as he works back from a torn ACL. He has talent as both a receiver and a blocker, though his upside is not as high as Leggett's. He'd also be a headline writer's dream in New England. "Butt heads Patriots draft class!"

Sidney Jones, CB, Washington - This may be wishful thinking, as Jones is one of the top cover men in the draft class. But he's coming off a torn Achilles suffered at his pro day. Still, he may not slip to the third round and the injury clouds his immediate future, but that's a chance the well-stocked Patriots could take.

What do you think of our list? Who do you want for the Patriots? Let us know with a comment below!

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