A football team isn’t complete without a good slot receiver. The position got its name because of where the player typically lines up pre-snap — between the tight end or offensive tackle and the wideout on the outside. Slot receivers are versatile and give quarterbacks a variety of routes to run. In addition, they can be used as a blocker on outside run plays.
They’re also known for their ability to work with the quarterback and develop chemistry that leads to success on the field. To be an effective slot receiver, you need to have several skills:
Speed: This is a crucial attribute for any receiver, but it’s especially important for the slot. Slot receivers must be able to fly past the secondary, usually the safety, when running go routes. They also need to be fast when catching the ball in traffic.
Route Running: A slot receiver must be able to run just about any route you can think of. This requires them to be precise with their timing and have a great understanding of the quarterback’s reads.
Blocking: While slot receivers don’t need to be able to deal with the kind of crushing blocks that offensive linemen do, they must still be able to protect their teammates. They’ll often be asked to block for running backs on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds. They may also be used to block for tight ends or fullbacks when running a screen play.
Ideally, a slot receiver will have both excellent hands and the ability to get open quickly. They will need to be able to adjust their footwork and change direction in an instant. They’ll also need to be a reliable receiver in the red zone.
Some of the most successful NFL players today are slot receivers. Tyreek Hill, Cole Beasley, and Juju Smith-Schuster are just a few of the current stars who thrive in this role. As the popularity of slot increases, it’s becoming even more important for teams to find the right receiver for their offense. When done correctly, the slot can be a game-changer.