The NFL has seen a massive shift in the passing game, as offenses are beginning to heavily rely on slot receivers. These players are typically shorter than wide receivers and have a unique skill set that allows them to stretch the defense vertically, run short routes, or block for running backs on outside run plays. Without a strong slot receiver, a team’s pass attack could suffer.
Typically, a slot receiver is a more compact player who looks more like a running back than a traditional wide receiver. They often have more speed than their counterparts and are great at gaining separation on quick slant routes and outs. Slot receivers also excel at running after the catch and are very reliable with their hands. They are a huge part of an offense and need to be able to read defenses well to create big plays.
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As a result, they’re a valuable piece of the puzzle for the majority of NFL teams. While they aren’t as physically imposing as their outside counterparts, these players are still capable of bringing down even the best cornerbacks in the league with their sheer speed and acrobatic ability in the open field.
To succeed, slot receivers must be able to run just about every route on the route tree and be precise with their timing. They also need to have excellent chemistry with their quarterback and be able to anticipate where defenders will be. Finally, they need to be a good blocker because they’re usually used in the same role as running backs and tight ends when blocking for outside runs. This makes it extremely important for them to be able to pick up blitzes and provide protection on outside run plays.