The slot receiver is the second wide receiver on an offense, behind the outside receivers and the tight end or offensive tackle. This position is referred to as the slot because the receiver lines up pre-snap between the last man on the line of scrimmage and the outside wide receiver.
The Slot Receiver is a key part of any offense, but this position has become more prominent in recent years as teams are running more three-receiver alignments than ever before. A lot of times, slot receivers are even used as the ball carrier for pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds to get them out of the backfield to find open space and give their quarterback a chance to throw the ball.
A Slot Receiver typically is a little smaller and shorter than an outside wide receiver, so they must have great route-running skills in order to be successful at this position. They also tend to have great hands and be quick enough to make defenders miss, especially in the short-yardage areas of the field.
In addition to running routes, Slot receivers also have to know how to block effectively and prevent defenders from getting to the ball carriers. Because they are lined up relatively close to the middle of the field, they will often line up near nickelbacks, outside linebackers, and safeties, which makes their blocking more important for running plays that involve the outside half of the field.
Some offenses like to run more running plays designed for the outside slot than the inside one, and this is where a Slot receiver can really shine. They can help seal off the outside linebackers, nickelbacks, and safeties by performing crack back blocks to keep them from trying to sack the quarterback on these types of plays.
Slot receivers are typically called on to run pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds a lot in the NFL, so they need to have speedy legs as well as strong hands and eyes to pick up on those routes and make catches. They are also used as ball carriers on a lot of these plays, so they need to be able to carry the ball quickly to get out of the backfield when needed.
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