Over the past few seasons, teams have increasingly relied on their slot receivers to be the team’s deep threat. The position gets its name from where it typically lines up pre-snap, between the last offensive tackle or tight end and the outside wide receiver. The Slot receiver’s role is more than just lining up in this area of the field, however; they also help with blocking on running plays. The best slot receivers in the NFL are versatile enough to do it all, from running routes like a fade and go to more involved patterns such as the slant and deep middle route.
The Slot receiver is typically a bit shorter and smaller than a traditional wideout, but they must have good hands and speed to excel in their role. They also need to be very precise in their route-running, as they often need to run precise patterns that the outside receivers wouldn’t be required to run. They must be able to fly past the secondary, usually the safety, on go routes and have reliable hands to catch balls that come in from all angles.
Because of the unique way in which they play, slot receivers are often a big target for opposing defenses. As a result, they have to be able to block well in pass protection and do it at an extremely high level. They’ll often be asked to chip defensive backs and safeties, as well as perform a crackback block on defensive ends.
Slot receivers are also expected to carry the ball on some running plays. They may not be required to do so as frequently as a wide receiver, but they’ll often have to run some pitches or reverses from time to time. They’ll need to be able to handle this responsibilities while delivering a quality block, as they don’t typically have the benefit of a fullback or tight end to protect them from contact.
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