A football team isn’t complete without a versatile receiver that can line up in the slot. This position is a little different from a wide receiver, as it lines up in the middle of the field and targets three levels of the defense (linebackers, secondary, and defensive backs). The best slot receivers are typically smaller than their counterparts and possess incredible speed and route-running skills to make them tough for any defense to cover.
The concept of the slot originated with Sid Gillman, who was a legendary college and professional coach in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His offenses featured a running back and two wide receivers in the slot, which enabled him to attack all three levels of the defense. This was the birth of the modern slot receiver, and it’s a position that has become increasingly important in today’s game.
When a player is in the slot, they are positioned just behind the line of scrimmage between the outside receiver and tight end. This positioning allows them to run a variety of routes up, in, and out of the box, but they also have a unique ability to act as an additional decoy on running plays.
A great slot receiver has excellent hands, speed, and route-running skills. They must be able to handle any type of route and be precise with their timing. They also need to have a good feel for the quarterback, which is often referred to as chemistry. In addition, slot receivers must be able to block effectively, as they usually play without a fullback or extra tight end to help with the blocking.
Lastly, slot receivers must be able to run precise patterns and break routes at top speeds. This is because they are often a little shorter and lighter than outside receivers, which can make them susceptible to contact. Additionally, they must be able to adjust their routes based on the coverage they are facing.
While some teams rely heavily on their slot receivers, others use them sparingly. Regardless, the position is becoming more and more popular in the NFL, and it’s no wonder why, given that these players are so difficult for defensive backs to defend. Some of the most prolific slot receivers in the league include Tyreek Hill, Brandin Cooks, Cole Beasley, and Keenan Allen.