As offenses around the NFL have come to rely more and more on deep passing and three-receiver sets, the slot receiver has become a vital position in the game. A good one will have great hands, a lot of speed, and the ability to run just about any route thrown his way. He will also be adept at blocking and have excellent chemistry with the quarterback. Typically shorter and smaller than outside wide receivers, slot receivers have to be especially precise with their routes and timing.
In the 1960s, Sid Gillman revolutionized the NFL with his “slot” strategy, whereby a second wide receiver would line up between and slightly behind the two outside wide receivers and the offensive linemen. He wanted his players to be fast, have great hands, and excel at running precise routes, which led to the development of the slot receiver as we know it today.
The Slot position is unique in that it doesn’t just cover the middle of the field but may also be required to carry the ball on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds. These runs require a Slot receiver to be in pre-snap motion and have to anticipate the snap to get open for the ball. They are also tasked with blocking for running plays, which requires them to be in a good spot to take on linebackers and cornerbacks.
Slot receivers are the best suited to running short and intermediate routes, but they can also make the leap to long and deep routes if they’re good enough. They must also be adept at reading the coverage and being able to quickly find holes in the defense, which can be difficult because of their size. In the passing game, they need to have exceptional chemistry with the quarterback and be very accurate when making decisions in the pocket.
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