A slot receiver is a type of wide receiver who lines up slightly off the line of scrimmage in an area between and slightly behind the outer wide receivers and offensive linemen. The name of the position comes from this area, which is called the “slot.”
A Slot Receiver’s Role in the Game
Slot receivers are often found in three-receiver alignments with an outside wide receiver and a tight end. They’re a vital part of the offense because they can get open and run quick routes while being able to defend defenders on the sideline and the outside. They also need to be able to block, especially when the quarterback calls them into pre-snap motion for pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds.
They have excellent speed, so they’re usually able to pick up the ball at the snap and run it quickly. They’re also very quick to react and make the necessary adjustments. They have the ability to make split-second decisions on the fly, which can be very important in determining which defenders will get a look at the ball when it’s in their hands.
Their Position on the Field
Because they’re lined up pre-snap behind the last man on the line of scrimmage, they have more room to move than other wide receivers. This can allow them to run certain out-breaking routes that other wide receivers may not have the space for, or it can give them a better vantage point in the middle of the field.
The Way They Play
In order to be a good slot receiver, players must have excellent hands and fast speeds. They must also be able to read the defense and know which defenders are where, as well as which routes are most likely to be blocked by them.
They must be able to run precise routes, too. They’ll need to be able to run short and in-breaking routes, as well as the more traditional deep and cross-field routes.
A slot receiver’s chemistry with the quarterback is very important. They need to be able to work together on the same page, so that they can read the quarterback’s signals and make the right adjustments when it’s time for them to receive the ball.
The chemistry is also important in the run game, as they are often asked to carry the ball from time to time. This is where their pre-snap motion and speed come in handy, as they’re able to get in the backfield and get to the ball quickly.
Their Blocking Skills
Slot receivers have very advanced blocking skills, compared to other wide receivers. They don’t deal crushing blocks like the offensive linemen do, but they do have to know how to position themselves so that they’re not ripped up by defenders on the inside of the slot.
Their Awareness of the Field
Because they’re in a position that is often overlooked, slot receivers need to be very aware of where defenders are on the field. This will help them know which routes to run and how to time the play properly.