The slot is a position in football that has gained popularity over the last decade as offenses have moved to more three wide receiver and running back sets. Essentially, the slot is where a wide receiver lines up slightly in the backfield a few steps off of the line of scrimmage. They’re usually asked to run a variety of routes up, in, and out as well as block for running backs on outside runs. Often, they’re shorter and quicker than traditional wideouts, so they need to have top-notch route running and speed skills.
They also need to be able to read defenses well. Because they’re a step off of the line of scrimmage, slot receivers can easily pick up blitzes or coverage from their opponents. The chemistry they have with their quarterback is also key in the success of their career, as they’re asked to run a variety of complex patterns that require great timing.
Depending on the offense, the slot may also be asked to act as a ball carrier on pitch plays or end-arounds. In these instances, they’ll be called into pre-snap motion and then handed the ball by the quarterback. They’ll also play a role in blocking, helping to shield the running back from defenders and pick up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players.
The best slot receivers in the NFL are usually multifaceted players that excel in multiple aspects of the game. They’re typically quick, able to run a variety of routes, and have excellent chemistry with their quarterback. This combination has made slot a popular position to learn and excel in, especially as the league moves toward more formations that require them.