Slot Requires Versatility and Reliability
Slot is a position in the receiver corps that offers more versatility to an offense. They normally line up a few steps off the line of scrimmage and are able to run up, in, or out routes as needed. They also are a crucial cog in the blocking wheel for running plays.
Unlike their outside counterparts, Slot receivers have to be more detailed in their route running. They must know which defenders are where and when. It takes a lot of practice to get on the same page as the quarterback and work together. This can result in big plays for the team when they get it right.
The Slot also must have great awareness of the field and which defenders are where. They need to know which defenders are closing in on them and when to cut or fade their routes. It can be hard for a rookie to understand the nuances of slot, but with experience and proper coaching, they will improve their skills.
Because they often are asked to run the ball, Slot receivers have to be fast and precise with their routes and timing. They also must be able to catch the ball with one hand. This position is not for everyone and requires a high level of skill to be successful in.
If the quarterback needs to run a quick pass to the Slot, they will usually call them into pre-snap motion as soon as the ball is snapped. This way, they can be ready to explode out of the gate and catch the ball in stride.
On running plays, the Slot receiver will be called upon to block (or chip) nickelbacks and outside linebackers, as well as safetys on certain run play looks. They will also be asked to perform a crack back block on defensive ends on certain plays.
Slots are a vital part of any offense and it will take a special player to be successful in this role. Without a good Slot receiver, the quarterback will struggle to stretch out the defense and attack all three levels of the defense. The Slot is a vital piece of the puzzle for any offense and should be rewarded with ample playing time. The more versatile and reliable they are, the better for the offense as a whole.