Slot receivers are a type of wide receiver who line up just a few steps off the line of scrimmage. This makes them more versatile and gives them plenty of options to play different roles in the offense.
They have a very special skill set, and the NFL has made them increasingly important in today’s game. Tyreek Hill, Cole Beasley, Keenan Allen and Robert Woods are some of the best slot receivers in the league.
The slot position can make a big difference on both passing and running plays, so it’s important to learn about it. Here are some of the key skills that slot receivers need to have:
Speed and Hands
The speed of a slot receiver is very important, as they’ll often fly past defenders on go routes or catch the ball when it comes their way from deep in the secondary. They also need strong hands to catch the ball in the slot area, where they’ll be surrounded by defenders who aren’t as tough to tackle as those on the outside.
The chemistry between a slot receiver and the quarterback is key for them to thrive, as they’ll run a variety of routes that they need to have perfected before they get the ball. They’ll also need to be very precise with their timing and know when to block.
On passing plays, a slot receiver can use their speed to stretch the defense vertically. This helps them open up more room for the ball carrier and is a great way to confuse the defense.
When the quarterback hands the ball off to a slot receiver, they’ll have a full head of steam behind them as they run, which can be a good decoy for the defense’s top linebackers. This can lead to an easy running play or a slant run.
Because they’re lined up so close to the middle of the field, slot receivers are a vital part of the blocking game. This means that they’ll often be asked to chip or crack back block nickel backs, outside linebackers and even safeties on runs that are designed to attack the outside portion of the field.
These players are also a valuable weapon for the offense in the red zone, where they can help the team by catching short passes and slants as the offense attempts to break down the defense’s coverage. They’ll be able to make quick and accurate reads on pass plays, which can keep the defense off balance and open up space for the running back or tight end.
The slot receiver will also have an advantage over other wide receivers on running plays, as they’ll be able to get open in the backfield quickly. This can be especially useful on sweeps, where they’ll be able to open up the running back or tight end for a big gain.
There’s a lot more to learning about slot receivers than you might think, and it’s important to understand what they do before you start playing them. Here’s a look at some of the most common slot routes and the role they play in football: