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Down to one


And then there was one.

One more team. One more day. One more selection.

When the readers were finished helping make the difficult No. 31 selection of the 2011 reader mock draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday, that reality hit, and if it wasn't that giddy Christmas morning feeling, it wasn't bad, either.

We're at the end. We're going to make it.

Not that there wasn't a palpable lag on Tuesday. The reader comments were shorter, and while it would be nice to assume the masses are gearing up for a grand finale for the Green Bay Packers at No. 32, the truth is almost certainly that the real draft Thursday has captured their attention.

That, or everyone's just, plain tired.

Whatever, with the Steelers on the clock at No. 31, the focus quickly moved to defense.

On the one hand, that made sense, not just because the senior writer had offered up cornerback Aaron Williams of Texas as a possibility, but because the franchise focuses on defense.

The debate Thursday focused on Williams for a while, but there also was a strong contingent that believed after taking Florida center Maurkice Pouncey – and having phenomenal success with the selection -- the franchise would continue to address what has generally been considered to be a weak offensive line in recent seasons.

For most, that meant choosing Derek Sherrod.

Sherrod, an offensive tackle from Mississippi State, has been appearing on an increased basis in the reader suggestions in recent days. And not without merit. In a draft considered deep at the position, he is widely projected as a late first- or early second-round selection.

"The Steelers will pick Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State," Michael Grose wrote, adding, "He will provide immediate help on an aging front line."

But while Sherrod got his share of support, defense was the dominant theme. Williams, perhaps because of the inertia provided by the senior writer, was much-discussed, but Miami cornerback Brandon Harris was, too.

"When looking into the Steelers, it doesn&39;t take long to realize they desperately need a CB," Fred Barnes wrote, adding, "They have other needs, but they all seem to pale by comparison. With that in mind I say they take the third best CB in the least as I rank selecting Brandon Harris."

Harris received about the same support as UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers, and while a few months ago each was projected in the first round, in the '11 reader mock at least, one of them will slip to round two. Not that there didn't remain ardent support for the UCLA linebacker.

"Ayers is the Steelers pick," jagsfan22 wrote, adding. "Ayers has continued to be pushed down by the big guys, but he doesn&39;t fall any longer. Steelers are notorious for drafting BAP and have continued to ignore their area of needs -- especially O-Line -- for a better player even though they have Pro Bowlers at that position and I see that trend continuing with the Steelers picking up Ayers at 31."

Michael Morgan correctly responded to jagsfan22's "especially offensive line" comment by nothing the selection of Pouncey last season, but this really wasn't an overly contentious day in reader mock land. There was even some joking when an obviously tired "J-School" Corby doubled up on his cornerback prospects by selecting for the Steelers Brandon Williams.

"Brandon Williams?" Barnes responded. "The only Brandon Williams I can find who plays football is a 3rd year DE/LB for the Dallas Cowboys out of Texas Tech. I take it you meant to either say Brandon Harris or Aaron Williams. Harris is a shutdown, man corner, so I&39;m thinking you meant Aaron Williams as a "physical, zone corner." Must have been that early-morning flight."

The senior writer started to resist the urge to note that "J-School" got his nickname for noting a similar mistake by the senior writer early in this draft, but by writing this sentence, he apparently did not resist too seriously. It has been noted.

Either way, when it came time to make a selection, there wasn't enough argument against Williams to move the senior writer off the selection he'd offered up the day before.

"Even though Aaron Williams isn&39;t the BAP, he&39;ll be the pick here," Matt wrote, and for the purposes of the '11 reader mock, Matt's right.

So, with the No. 31 overall selection in the 2011 reader mock draft, the Steelers  select Williams, which makes the board look like:

No. 1 | Carolina | Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

No. 2 | Denver | Patrick Peterson, CB, Louisiana State

No. 3 | Buffalo | Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

No. 4 | Cincinnati | Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

No. 5 | Arizona | Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

No. 6 | Cleveland | A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

No. 7 | San Francisco | Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

No. 8 | Tennessee | Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

No. 9 | Dallas | Tyron Smith, OT, Southern California

No. 10 | Washington | Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

No. 11 | Houston | Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

No. 12 | Minnesota | Jake Locker, QB, Washington

No. 13 | Detroit | Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

No. 14 | St. Louis | Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

No. 15 | Miami | Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

No. 16 | Jacksonville | Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

No. 17 | New England | J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

No. 18 | San Diego | Cameron Jordan, DE, California

No. 19 | New York Giants | Mike Pouncey, G, Florida

No. 20 | Tampa Bay | Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri

No. 21 | Kansas City | Adrian Clayborn, OLB, Iowa

No. 22 | Indianapolis | Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

No. 23 | Philadelphia | Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

No. 24 | New Orleans | Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

No. 25 | Seattle | Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

No. 26 | Baltimore | Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 27 | Atlanta | Justin Houston, LB, Georgia

No. 28 | New England | Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

No. 29 | Chicago | Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

No. 30 | New York Jets | Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor

No. 31 | Pittsburgh | Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

That brings us to the Green Bay Packers, at last, at No. 32. We're there. The end. Really. We'll offer up Sherrod again. The Packers could use help at the position, and an argument can be made he's a darned good value at the end of the first round.

Have at it.

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