The slot receiver is one of the most important wideouts in football. He lines up a few yards behind the line of scrimmage, and is a great route runner, speedy receiver, and blocker. The role has become increasingly popular in the past few seasons.
They’re also a key piece of the three-wide receiver/tight end package, which has become more common in recent years. They can run deep routes, inside or outside, and are often called on as a ball carrier for pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds.
Their position makes them a versatile playmaker, and they have a knack for finding the open space that other players can’t. Their versatility also allows them to fill in as a blocker for running backs, which can be a valuable skill on outside run plays when they aren’t the ball carrier.
Having good chemistry with the quarterback is an important part of being successful in this position. They have to be able to communicate and trust their quarterback to make the right decision, or they won’t be able to make the most of their opportunity on the field.
They are also known for their pre-snap motion, which sets them up for a big block on defense. During this time, they have a full head of steam and can quickly get to the outside of the defense, where they can catch a pass or outrun the defense’s best tacklers.
This ability to break through a defense’s best tacklers is one of the reasons why slot receivers have become so popular in the NFL. They’re usually shorter than traditional wide receivers, which helps them avoid the crushing blocks that traditional receivers sometimes face.
As an added bonus, slot receivers are often more elusive than other wideouts, meaning they’re more likely to pick up a short pass in the air, or to make the defense miss their target. This makes them a great weapon on quick passing plays and short, high-percentage passes in the red zone.
Because of their position, they’re also a good target for the quarterback on pitch plays and reverses. During these plays, the QB will call them into pre-snap motion and throw them the ball. The receiver will then make a huge move in the direction of their pre-snap motion, hoping that they can find enough space to catch a pass.
Their speed also makes them a great playmaker on short passes, as they can catch a pass in the air or get the ball down in the back of their pants with their legs extended, which is more difficult to do for other receivers.
They can be a great decoy for other receivers, too. This is especially true when the team has a lot of wideouts on the field, and there’s only one slot receiver in the slot.
A good slot receiver can also help out with the defense’s outside run plays by taking blitzes from linebackers and secondary players. This allows the running back to gain more room on those runs, which gives the offense more time to score.