Slot receivers are wide receivers who line up between the nearest player on the field’s line of scrimmage and an outside receiver. This position is commonly referred to as “slotback” or simply “slot.”
The slot receiver has a number of different roles on the field. In addition to catching passes, they can also run, block for the ball carrier, and help out on special teams. They’re often seen in pass-heavy offenses like West Coast systems, where the slot receiver is a vital part of the offense.
On passing plays, the slot receiver typically runs a flat route that starts in the center of the field. The slot receiver then breaks upfield into a corner or post route that ends in the sideline. This gives the quarterback time to throw the ball and avoid defenders who are covering them.
As the slot receiver is in the middle of the field, they’re also more likely to get hit than wideouts. This means that they need to be tough and strong so they can withstand the pressure of the defense.
They’re also much smaller than wideouts and can be very quick in their movements. They also need to be able to elude tackles and get around them in order to make big plays on the field.
Slot receivers are typically paired with other wideouts on the team in order to confuse the defense and gain more yardage. They’re a very versatile player and can be used to attack any depth on the defense, as long as the QB makes a good read.
When paired with a wideout, a slot receiver is an excellent target for a running back, since they’re already in motion and can quickly outrun defenders who’re trying to stop the run. This is especially important on slants and sweeps, where the slot receiver can help open up space for the runner.
A slot receiver can also act as a blocker, providing protection for the runner on outside runs and picking up blitzes from linebackers or secondary players. This is a key skill for slot receivers to have, because they’re so close to the line of scrimmage and must be able to protect the ball carrier with speed and agility.
The slot receiver can also run a variety of routes, depending on the offense and the coach’s needs. This allows them to be a part of all types of passing offenses, from the traditional West Coast system to modern NFL formations with three or four wide receivers.
They can also be used as a decoy, which can help the team by creating an opening for the other receivers to pick up catches. They can be thrown in front of the quarterback to make him think that they’re there for a quick pass.
If they’re paired with a running back, the slot receiver can also be asked to run the ball. The quarterback will then hand the ball off or pitch it to them before they’re in motion, allowing the slot receiver to run past the defense and into open space.