Slot receivers, also referred to as slotbacks, are an integral part of the offense. Their responsibilities include picking up defenders who try to break through the line of scrimmage, creating mismatches downfield and blocking defenders. Often, these players are utilized in place of tight ends, fullbacks and running backs.
They also protect the quarterback and can run quick outs. Several slot receivers can be on the field at once. This creates confusion for defenders. Usually, they line up slightly behind the line of scrimmage. If the formation is too complicated to cover, the defense may have to shift to another option.
Slot receivers have the potential to be big playmakers. Players like Tyreek Hill and Branden Cooks have the speed to stretch the defense vertically. Depending on the offense, they can also serve as check-downs for the quarterback. In addition, they can prevent the quarterback from being sacked.
Slot receivers are typically able to line up on either side of the offensive line. Some formations require that all receivers line up on the same side. Other teams, however, can use multiple receivers to provide the offense with more options.
Slots have become more common in the NFL. A team can only have eleven players on the field at any given time. Having slot receivers allows the offense to utilize their speed to go inside or outside.
These slot receivers are often paired with a wide receiver. When there are multiple receivers on the field, the defense must be able to read the formations. Typically, the slot receivers will run slants or a route tree.