The slot is the wide receiver position that’s often overlooked in draft conversations, but the right one can be a game-changer. These receivers are typically shorter, more stocky, and much faster than their outside counterparts, which means that they need to have superior route-running skills. They also need to be very precise with their timing and have exceptional hands. Moreover, they need to know which defenders are where and when to beat them.
As a result, they have to be on the same page as the quarterback and can’t afford any miscues or slow starts. They’re also usually responsible for blocking, and they need to be better at this than outside receivers do. On running plays, like sweeps and slants, they’re an important cog in the blocking wheel for the ball carrier.
There are plenty of top-tier receivers that spend a significant amount of their time in the slot, including Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins. These receivers are known for their ability to catch the football with ease, but they’re also extremely dangerous runner and return specialists.
A Slot receiver is a versatile wide receiver that lines up just behind the line of scrimmage, meaning they can run up, in, and out. They catch a lot of short passes and play hand-in-hand with a nickelback on defense, which makes the Slot a very versatile position to have on a team’s offense.
Generally, the Slot receiver will have an advanced understanding of how to run just about every passing route in the book, as well as an exceptional ability to read coverages. They’ll need to know where the defenders are at all times, especially when it comes to covering short or deep routes. And of course, they’ll need to be able to block on running plays, as they’re a crucial part of the offensive plan for most teams.
Slot receivers may even act as a running back from time to time, acting as the primary blocker on pitch plays and end-arounds. They’ll be called into pre-snap motion by the quarterback, then they’ll either hand off to the back or act as a big decoy to create space for the running play.
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