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What Is the Slot Receiver?

Slot receivers have become a fixture in the NFL, and coaches love to use them in their offensive formation, but what exactly is a slot receiver?  

Slot Receivers 

A slot receiver is a role in the offensive team that is positioned between the tight end and the offensive tackle. They stand 5 yards behind the line so they are considered as one of the backs. They are called the ‘slot’ because they are not the furthest out to the boundary at their position. 

It is important to know that a slot receiver is not a drafted position in the NFL. Rather, their drafted position is either wide receivers or running backs, and coaches will assign the role of slots to the players depending on the style of offense. Hence, slot receivers are the hybrid of wide receivers and running back or tight end. 

Slots also act as a recourse for quarterbacks in the event of a pressure. Hence, slot receivers must be a catcher, blocker and able to evade tackles to make good running or pass routes. 

No. Of Slot Receivers

The offensive team can have up to 3 slot receivers. They can either have all on one side or mixed on both sides of the field. When there are multiple slot receivers, the ones that are closer to the center are called ‘inside slot’ and those who are further near the sideline are called ‘outside slots.’

Replacing Full Backs

Slot receivers are emerging more often than ever in the NFL and are starting to replace full backs, as teams nowadays are increasingly favouring a more efficient means of scoring. Shifting from running plays to passing plays. 

Spread offense and getting players into good passing routes become the number one decision NFL coaches put their focus on to which slot receivers have a huge role to play. 

What Makes A Slot Receiver? 

A slot receiver is an offensive player who lines up in the spot position, between the wide receiver and the offensive tackle. The player stands 5 yards behind the line and is eligible to carry the ball. To be a slot receiver, the player has to possess the ability of wide receiver and running back. 

Why is the Slot Receiver Important? 

When a team uses the slot as playmakers, it gives speed players an advantage to make running plays whenever the flow is right. This puts a lot of pressure on defenders to anticipate whether they should guard against runs or long range forward passes as they would worry about getting outrun by the slot out of pure speed.

Slot corners

The best way for the defensive team to counter slot receivers is to have a direct opposing role known as the slot corners. Slot corners are the extra defensive backs. They are lined up inside of a boundary cornerback.[1]

What’s the Difference Between Slot Receiver and Wide Receiver?

Standard wide receivers (also known as outside receivers) line up at the end of the offensive line far away near the sideline, and are the furthest players away from his team. Whereas slot receivers are stationed closely to the offensive linemen.

After the snap, wide receivers are often expected to run toward the end zone to catch long range forward passes from the quarterback.

As for slot receivers, they will be blocking defenders and receive short range passes or handoffs. At times they may also be expected to gain yards by rushing. 

In terms of built, wide receivers tend to be taller, skinnier and faster than slot receivers who tend to be shorter and stronger. Both are quick and agile, but slot receivers tend to have better muscular power than wide receivers as they need to take hits from defenders as well as power through their defenses. 

Closing Thoughts 

Slot receivers are an important role in today’s NFL, and they are often the tide changer of a competitive game. Share with us below what you think of this role! Is there anything we missed out?

Resources:

 [1] “What is a Slot Receiver or a Slot Corner? – vIQtory Sports.” https://www.viqtorysports.com/slot-receiver-corner/. Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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