A slot is a position in the NFL that allows players to line up behind the nearest player on the line of scrimmage (Tackle or Tight End) and immediately next to the sideline. A receiver in this role has the ability to stretch the defense vertically off of pure speed, and can even run shorter routes on the route tree.
The slot is a vital part of an offense’s playbook, as it gives a team’s quarterback more flexibility to attack different depths of defense. This is especially helpful when running pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds.
Slot Receiver Skills
Like all receivers, slot receivers need to be quick. They also need to be able to deal with defenders who have the ability to block them, and they need to be strong enough to withstand impact. They need to be able to read the field and know how to run routes that prevent defenders from getting to their ball carriers.
They also need to be able to run complex routes that involve elusion and evasion. This is a crucial skill for slot receivers, as they often have to get open in a hurry and beat defenders who are trying to tackle them before they can get the ball in their hands.
A slot receiver can also be used as a ball carrier from time to time. This is a great way to take advantage of their pre-snap motion and their speedy skills, and it also allows the quarterback to run the ball on the outside of the defense, hoping to find plenty of open space to move the ball down the field.
These receivers are also known for their speed and agility, as they have to be able to break out of their blocks on the run. This is also important, as they may need to run quick, sharp turns from time to time to catch the ball.
Slot receivers are a valuable piece of an offensive playbook and are a critical part of any team’s offense, whether they are the primary or secondary receiver. They also tend to be a lot more versatile than their wider counterparts and can see a higher amount of targets.
They are also a lot more difficult to catch than wideouts, so they can be an important part of the passing game for teams that don’t have any other true receivers.
Some of the best slot receivers in the NFL have earned their spot as the number one receiver on their team, accumulating incredible numbers over the course of their careers. Here is a list of some of the most successful slot receivers in the history of the NFL:
Hines Ward: 1.500 receptions, 1208 yards, 85 touchdowns over his 14-year career.
Ernest Givins: 571 receptions, 8,215 yards, 49 touchdowns over his 10-year career.
Larry Fitzgerald: 1,432 receptions, 17,492 yards, 121 touchdowns over his 17-year career.
Juju Smith-Schuster: 68 receptions, 909 yards, 5 touchdowns over his 3-year career.