Slot isn’t a position that’s been around very long, but it has quickly become one of the most valuable positions in the NFL. The term “slot” refers to a receiver who lines up pre-snap between the last player on the line of scrimmage (either the tight end or offensive tackle) and the outside wide receiver.
Slot receivers have a very specific role in the offense, and they require a unique set of skills to excel at their job. They are often shorter and stockier than their outside counterparts, but they also typically have very high speed. As a result, they have to be great at running precise routes, as well as blocking.
When it comes to running plays, slot receivers are very important for the protection of their outside wide receiver and/or running back. They block (or at least chip) nickelbacks, outside linebackers, safeties, and sometimes even defensive ends on run plays that are designed to the outside part of the field. They are very good at picking up blitzes from secondary players, and they can provide a lot of support on outside run plays by giving the running back more space.
In the 1960s, Sid Gillman was the first coach to utilize two wide receivers at the same time in his formations, and Al Davis took this strategy to the next level as a head coach of the Raiders in 1963. This is when the slot position was born, and it’s a role that has only become more valuable in recent years as teams have realized the value of having a versatile receiving corps.
The slot receiver’s position is very important because it allows him to start his route right behind the line of scrimmage, which increases the distance between him and the defenders if he needs to change directions on a quick pass. This is a critical advantage for the slot receiver because it helps him to win more routes and catch more passes than if he was lining up out of the slot.
In addition to requiring excellent route-running skills, slot receivers must be very fast and have good hands. They must be able to catch both short and deep passes, as well as pass off screens and run routes up and in. In many cases, slot receivers are a little shorter and smaller than their outside counterparts, so they must be very quick and have great hands to catch the ball.
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