The slot receiver is one of the most versatile players in football. They are a big part of the offense and can help make or break a team’s chances of winning. They have a unique skill set that many NFL teams are willing to pay top dollar for.
The Definition of a Slot Receiver
A slot receiver is a wide receiver that lines up behind the line of scrimmage and slightly behind the offensive linemen. They are often referred to as slotbacks or slotwideouts, but this term can also be used to describe any player who lines up in the slot area.
They are often the first receiver on the field because they can be used as a decoy to open up more room for the rest of the offense, as well as act as a ball carrier on certain plays. This is especially true for pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds, where the slot receiver can run a pre-snap motion to try to get to the sideline.
Slot receivers are fast and agile, and they excel at running specific routes because of where they line up. This makes them a great target for the quarterback, but it’s important to note that they are usually not as tall and stocky as an outside wide receiver.
They need to have excellent hands and speed because they’re often called into the pre-snap motion by the quarterback, so they must be able to move quickly to catch the ball without being hit. They’re also a very good route runner because they can easily run inside and outside, deep and short.
The History of the Slot
The slot receiver position was created in the 1960s when Sid Gillman’s assistant coach, Al Davis, began implementing his own offensive strategy that put a wide receiver in the “slot area” between the offensive line and the outermost wide receiver. This gave the wideout an opportunity to attack all three levels of the defense, and it became a popular strategy for several NFL teams.
Today, coaches use slot receivers in a variety of ways to attack all depths of the defense. Some have even started to use nickel backs, which are players that run shorter routes than a typical wide receiver but are still capable of breaking defenders down.
Depending on the game and the coach, slot receivers may also be used as part of a run or pass option offense. They can either run a simple route on the flat or break upfield to a quick out, slant, or corner, which allows them to stretch the defense vertically off pure speed.
Their speed and agility allow them to go past defenders who normally would block them in the normal area, which allows them to get downfield faster than a wideout. This allows the quarterback to read their speed better and make more accurate passes.
They may also be a ball carrier on some running plays, too. This is especially common on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds, and they are often the first receiver on the field because of their speed.