The slot receiver position is becoming more and more important as the NFL continues to develop. These players are versatile and able to attack multiple levels of defense, making them a necessary part of the offensive playbook. Whether they’re lining up in the slot, in the middle of the field, or at the tight end position, slot receivers are crucial for every football team.
The Slot Receiver’s Role
Unlike their wide receiver counterparts, the slot receiver doesn’t have to be the most skilled player on the team. However, they should have an advanced knowledge of the offensive line and a good understanding of how to read the field. This allows them to run the ball effectively and make plays that the outside receivers might not have the ability to do.
They also need to be able to block defenders and seal off the outside when running plays are designed to go outside. Because they’re lined up relatively close to the middle of the field, they’re often a more vital part of the blocking game than their counterparts on the outside. They’ll be responsible for chipping or cracking a nickelback, safeties, and outside linebackers, especially on runs that are designed to go outside.
Their Size & Physicality
Slot receivers are usually shorter and stockier than their wide receiver counterparts. They don’t have to be as fast or strong, but they should be able to absorb contact in the middle of the field and make big catches.
The average slot receiver is around 6’0′′ tall and weighs about 180-190 lbs. They’re also typically tougher than their wide receiver counterparts, able to absorb repeated hits and get hit hard.
A slot receiver’s number is the same as a wideout, but they are allowed to wear a different jersey color than their teammates. They are also limited to wearing numbers between 1-49 or 80-89, but the NFL has relaxed these restrictions in recent years.
Their Skills & Techniques
The slot receiver isn’t afraid to put his head down and run. They can outrun the defense, which can be a key factor in their success on certain running plays. This is because they’re already in motion before the quarterback hands them the ball, meaning they can find open space quickly and avoid a costly collision with defenders.
Their Routine & Practice
The slot receiver works with the quarterback to plan out his route and timing. This requires a lot of practice, but when it’s done right, the slot receiver can be an explosive threat on the field.
They’re also responsible for reading the field and knowing which defenders are where when they’re running a route. This can be a crucial skill in the NFL, and they’re often the most experienced of all the wide receivers.
They’re a crucial cog in an offense’s blocking game, but they can be a difficult position to master. It takes time and patience to become the best slot receiver on your team, but they’re worth the effort.