There was a lot of excitement for the Cornhuskers tackle tandem of Jared Crick and Steinkuhler heading into the 2011 season. Aside from some good moments, the duo didn't have the impact that Nebraska hoped. Crick went down with a season-ending injury after playing in only five games and Steinkuhler didn't play as well without Crick next to him.
Steinkuhler had 40 tackles with four tackles for a loss and two sacks as junior, slightly less production than his production from 2010. He had a big game against Northwestern and a good first half versus Washington, but was shutout by Iowa. Steinkuhler didn't look particularly good against Wisconsin or Ohio State either. He had a disappointing season overall.
Steinkuhler registered 46 tackles with 3.5 sacks in 2010, his first season as a starter. Crick had a good season next to him that year, which helped Steinkuhler have a quality sophomore campaign.
2012 Season Outlook:
The Cornhuskers are depending on Steinkuhler taking his play to another level as a senior. Aside from Crick, the defense lost its two best players: linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. Nebraska really needs Steinkuhler to be a difference-maker up front.
The senior's biggest test will come against Wisconsin at the end of September. Otherwise Steinkuhler has a schedule that is relatively conducive to a more productive season.
Steinkuhler's biggest strength is run defense. He is strong and stout at the point of attack. Steinkuhler does a good job of holding his ground and maintaining gap integrity, too. Guards struggle to move him off the ball, and he shows the potential to possibly take on multiple blockers.
There is one area that Steinkuhler must improve: his pass-rushing. He struggles to get pressure on the quarterback. Steinkuhler ususally tries a bull rush that isn't very effective. He has to get some quality moves beyond a bull rush. Steinkuhler should have the physical ability to have a nice rip move. A power-leverage rush would be a nice and necessary addition.
Steinkuhler looks limited athletically, so he won't be a speed-rusher who beats guards in the NFL by firing by them into a gap. Steinkuhler needs to become more physical and impose his power on offensive linemen. He has the frame to add more muscle and that would be a good idea to help him take on NFL linemen.
Steinkuhler has some positives and negtives off the field. On the plus side, he is a studious hard-worker. Steinkuhler already has graduated and is taking graduate courses this year. On the down side, he had a DUI arrest that caused him to be suspended for the Holiday Bowl at the end of the 2010 season.
Steinkuhler has good blood lines being the son of Dean Steinkuhler. In Dean's collegiate career at Nebraska, he won the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award as a star offensive lineman. Dean Steinkuhler then played from 1984-1991 for the Houston Oilers. He's famous for the "fumblerooski" where he picked up Turner Gill's intentional fumble and ran it 19 yards for a touchdown during the 1984 Orange Bowl.
The best fit for Baker Steinkuhler would be to play in a 3-4 defense in the NFL. He has the length and strength to set the edge as a five-technique defensive nd. Steinkuhler should be able to occupy offensive linemen to help free up his linebackers. For a 4-3 defense, he should add weight to stay at tackle unless he went to a team looking for a power run-stuffing defensive end.
Considering his game, Steinkuhler would be better off in a 3-4.
2013 Draft Expectations:
Steinkuhler looks like a mid-round pick heading into 2012. He could go as high as the third round, and perhaps as low as the middle rounds on the final day of the draft. Increasing his pass-rushing success would be the best way that Steinkuhler could push his stock higher.