The Slot – The Versatile Receiver Position in the NFL
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The slot is the receiver position that lines up a few yards behind the line of scrimmage, between the outermost tight end or wideout and the middle. They are a versatile threat and can be used on both passing plays and running plays. They need to be fast enough to get open quickly and have great chemistry with the quarterback. A lot of the top receivers in the NFL play the slot, including Tyreek Hill, Cole Beasley, Keenan Allen and Juju Smith-Schuster.
They run a lot of routes that match up with other receivers, which confuses the defense and gives them more space to work. They are also vital blockers on running plays, especially slants and sweeps. They must be able to block defensive backs and safeties, while protecting the ball carrier from big hits.
Due to their alignment and pre-snap motion, they can also act as a decoy on pitch plays or end-arounds. On these running plays, the quarterback will usually hand them the ball after he or she sends them in motion as soon as the ball is snapped. The slot receiver is then able to run ahead of the defense and outrun them to the outside of the field.
On the other hand, slot receivers are also key running back blockers on stretches and slant runs. They can also help protect the ball carrier on outside run plays by picking up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players. This can be a tough position to play, as slot receivers are often tasked with being extra blocking help in certain situations.