The NFL game has seen a growing reliance on slot receivers over the past decade. These players are shorter, stockier and faster than the typical wideout, and they often play in a position closer to the middle of the field. Because of their versatility, they are often targeted on more passes than their outside counterparts. On running plays, they also provide a crucial blocking component in the running game, helping to seal off outside defenders on sweeps and slants.
As more teams utilize the 3-1 receiver/back setup, it becomes even more important for teams to have quality slot options. Some of the best receivers in the league — such as Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs — are slot players who are among the top targets on their respective teams.
In terms of the route running, slot receivers need to have a great understanding of the defense in order to match up with defensive backs and secondary players. They also must be able to run precise routes and anticipate the quarterback’s plan. Finally, they must have advanced ability to block, especially when it comes to picking up blitzes from linebackers and safeties.
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