In today’s game, the Slot receiver is becoming an increasingly important role player. They are a versatile asset to the offense that can do many things, but they primarily specialize in running routes and blocking. They are typically shorter and faster than outside wide receivers, but they are also a lot more agile and nimble on the field.
The Slot receiver gets its name because they typically line up a few steps off the line of scrimmage pre-snap. This gives them more freedom to move around the field and attack all three levels of the defense. In addition to their route running, they can also play as a big decoy on some running plays and act as an extra blocker on outside runs.
They get the ball from the quarterback after he sends them in motion as soon as the ball is snapped and they run to a spot based on their pre-snap alignment. They can then run a short route, an intermediate route, or they may even be asked to go deep. In these instances, they must have excellent route running skills and good chemistry with the quarterback.
Slot receivers are typically more agile than traditional outside wideouts and as a result, they are not as reliant on jump balls. This is especially true on the backfield, where they can often be used to seal off the outside linebackers or safeties and create space for other running backs. They can also help in the blocking game by squaring up to defensive backs or performing a crack back block on a safeties.
Despite their agility, Slot receivers are typically better at running precise routes. This is because they are typically a little bit shorter and smaller than outside receivers, so they must be precise with their timing in order to gain an advantage on the defense. They also need to be good at getting open in traffic and avoiding defenders.
As the NFL continues to trend toward more 3-1 receiver/back combinations, teams are relying on Slot receivers more and more. They are versatile and valuable players that can take the defense by surprise.