A football team isn’t complete without a talented and versatile slot receiver. Slot receivers line up between the outside tackle (or tight end) and wideout, a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. They have a number of responsibilities, from catching passes to blocking for the running back and wideout. The slot is a crucial position and has become one of the more valuable spots on offenses.
What is a Slot?
The slot is a position that evolved from the emergence of the Tight End Position. Sid Gillman popularized the idea of a second wide receiver lined up next to a tight end, allowing teams to attack all three levels of the defense. Since that time, the role of the slot has grown and diversified as NFL coaches have adapted offensive schemes to utilize the position more effectively.
To play the slot, the wide receiver must be very quick and agile. They must be able to run routes to both the inside and outside, deep and short, and have excellent hands. They must also be able to break tackles, as they are often the first player in motion on running plays, such as sweeps and slants. Depending on the scheme, slot receivers may also be required to block for the ball carrier and must be able to pick up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players.
They are usually smaller and stockier than outside wide receivers, but they must be very strong and possess outstanding route-running skills. Specifically, they must be able to run precise routes at high speeds. Additionally, they must be able to run all kinds of routes, because they can get lined up in any pattern the quarterback throws.
Slot receivers are important to a passing offense because they can act as the safety valve for the entire receiving corps. They can come open for big gains and help the team create mismatches with opposing defenses. They can also help protect the running back on outside run plays by blocking defensive ends and linebackers.
The slot also serves as an important launching point for other types of plays, such as the short and deep crossing routes. It is because of this versatility that so many of the top wide receivers in the NFL spend significant time in the slot. For example, Julio Jones, Cooper Kupp and Stefon Diggs all play a substantial amount of their time in the slot. This allows them to maximize the opportunities provided by their teammates, which can make all the difference in a game. For these reasons, it’s no surprise that the slot has become a very valuable position on an offense. Especially in today’s NFL, no team is complete without a skilled slot receiver.