The slot receiver is a highly versatile player who has become a staple of the NFL offense. They can stretch the defense vertically, catch the ball in traffic, and run shorter routes than most wide receivers.
They’re a huge asset to any offense, and have the ability to play on every play, regardless of the situation. They’re also a very difficult player to defend, making them an important part of any team’s offensive arsenal.
A slot receiver is a wide receiver who lines up in the “slot” area between and slightly behind the outside wide receivers and offensive linemen. The name “slot receiver” originated from the way this player is lined up in the NFL.
This position was first popularized by the Oakland Raiders’ head coach Tom Davis in the 1960s. He wanted the slot receivers to have a lot of speed, great hands, and be precise with their routes and timing.
He also believed that the slot receiver could make a difference in the game by blocking for running backs and wide receivers. That’s why he had the slot receivers line up just slightly behind the outside wide receivers.
It wasn’t long after that the slot receiver became a staple in NFL offenses. Players such as Wayne Chrebet, Wes Welker, and Charlie Joiner made the slot receiver position popular and helped establish the way it was done.
Some slot receivers are more effective at catching the ball than running it, while others are better at both. This is largely dependent on the quarterback’s playcalling and the slot receiver’s pre-snap alignment.
They may also be used as a running back or blocker at times, but this isn’t a necessity and usually occurs only on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds.
The slot receiver’s pre-snap motion and speed enable them to quickly outrun the defense, which can help them win catches and gain yards. They’re especially useful on pitch plays and reverses, where the quarterback calls them into pre-snap motion to get them moving in the right direction.
They can also stretch the defense by running downfield or inward on short routes. For instance, Tyreek Hill is a fantastic slot receiver who can stretch the defense vertically, making him an excellent receiver for the NFL’s pass-heavy offenses.
A slot receiver can also be a valuable addition to the defensive front because they can pick up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players while still being able to block for a running back or wideout on outside runs.
Slot receivers often catch more passes than their teammates, but they may only see a small percentage of the total targets for the offense. This is because they don’t necessarily have the same size and physicality as the other wideouts on their team.
Their reliance on speed is also why they’re so dangerous when it comes to snagging the ball in traffic. This allows them to make quick cuts and run with the ball when needed, allowing them to score a touchdown.