Slot Receivers in the NFL


When you hear the term slot, it might conjure up thoughts of a narrow opening or groove in something like a keyway, a slit for a coin on a vending machine, or the aperture that mail goes through. But in the NFL, a slot is a very specific role that requires special skills that make it vital to an offense. Having a strong slot receiver gives the quarterback a reliable option when throwing and helps provide protection for running backs and wideouts on outside run plays.

The NFL has seen a boom in slot receivers since former Raiders coach Bill Davis introduced the position. He wanted players who could play both outside and in the slot, and he emphasized speed, route running, precision timing, and great chemistry with the quarterback. Davis’s idea paid off with several talented receivers, including Wes Welker (who had a record-breaking career with 5,801 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns) and Julian Edelman (2,053 receptions for 8,829 yards and 51 touchdowns).

In addition to those skills, slot receivers also need to be very strong blockers. They pick up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players, and they provide protection on outside run plays so that running backs have more room to get to the ball. Ideally, slot receivers are tall enough to catch passes in the middle of the field but fast enough to blow past defenders who try to jam them.

Having a solid slot receiver makes an offense much more difficult to defend, and it’s no wonder that the position has become so popular in recent years. Some teams even have multiple receivers who spend most of their time in the slot, making them a major threat for opposing defenses. Here’s a look at some of the top slot receivers in the league right now: