The slot is a hot position in today’s NFL, and teams are starting to realize just how important a good one can be. Some of the best receivers in the league – Tyreek Hill, Cole Beasley, and Keenan Allen, to name a few – have thrived in this role, making them hard for defenses to cover. They are the ultimate game-changers for their teams.
The slot got its name because the player typically lines up pre-snap between the last man on the line of scrimmage (often the tight end or offensive tackle) and the outside wide receiver. This positioning allows them to run routes up, in, and out of the slot, giving them a ton of versatility on offenses. They also have to be very fast to blow past defenders when running the go route, and they need reliable hands because they catch a lot of short passes that come behind the line of scrimmage.
They can also block on running plays when they aren’t the ball carrier, picking up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players, as well as protecting the running back when they’re blocking for him on outside run plays. They tend to be shorter, stockier, and tougher than their outside wide receiver counterparts.
While they look like running backs, they’re essentially wide receivers that have been conditioned to run precise routes. They typically have great speed, and their route-running skills are often better than those of their outside wideout counterparts. They can run the slot, out, and even deep routes.
Because of their versatility and reliability, slot receivers are often a team’s most valuable asset. They can take pressure off the outside wideouts, allow the quarterback to stretch out the defense, and give teams a big advantage when it comes to covering multiple defensive coverages.
Slot receivers are typically drafted and signed as wideouts, but they earn the title of slot receiver because of their unique skill set. They are the ideal complement to any team’s wideouts, and they are a necessity on many of the best offenses in the league today.
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