Slot receivers are a key part of the offensive playbook and have become more popular in recent years. This position can be tricky to get an understanding of, though.
Slot definition and history
When a slot receiver lines up, they usually place themselves pre-snap between the last man on the line of scrimmage (either the tight end or offensive tackle) and the outside receiver. This gives them a unique position on the field, as they can run routes that aren’t possible for other wide receivers.
Some slot receivers can also act as a running back or blocker from time to time. This is especially true on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds where the quarterback calls them into pre-snap motion.
This allows them to take the ball out of the hands of defenders and run it to the outside of the field. They can also pick up blitzes from the linebackers or secondary players and protect the ball carrier on sweeps and slants. It’s also important for them to be able to make accurate reads and be able to adjust to defenses’ different strategies.