The slot is one of the most underrated positions in the NFL. Despite being a small part of the overall roster, players who excel in this position are instrumental to the success of their teams. Their role is unique because they line up a few yards behind the line of scrimmage and can run routes both up, in, and out. This makes them a threat for defensive coordinators to cover. They also provide great depth in the passing game, giving offenses multiple options throughout the game. The most notable examples of slot receivers include Tyreek Hill, Cole Beasley, Tyler Lockett, and Juju Smith-Schuster.
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While the slot position has only recently become more popular, its roots go back several decades. Sid Gillman, the Oakland Raiders’ first head coach, utilized a wide receiver on each side of the field in 1963 and created the slot receiver position. This gave the team a secret weapon that they could unleash at any point during the game.
The responsibilities of the slot receiver are varied and include blocking, running with the ball, and acting as a decoy on certain plays. They also need to have good hands and be precise with their routes. This allows them to beat the coverage and catch passes that other wide receivers would not be able to.
Because slot receivers are often called into pre-snap motion, they must be able to anticipate the route that the quarterback is going to call. Once they receive the ball, they must quickly get to the outside of the defense and avoid being hit by tacklers. They may also need to carry the ball as a running back on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds. For this reason, it’s crucial that they have excellent speed and a solid running game.