A slot is a narrow notch or opening, such as a keyway in a piece of machinery or a slit for coins in a vending machine. It is also a term used to describe a position in a group, sequence, or series. For example, the phrase “he was slotted into a leadership role” means that he was given a position in the company that is higher than other people, but lower than his manager or supervisor.
In the NFL, the slot is a specific receiver position that has become more important in recent seasons. Slot receivers are typically shorter and faster than traditional wide receivers, and they often play in nickel or dime packages on offenses. Their speed and agility help them beat coverage and run precise routes, which allows them to get open for passes. The NFL has seen a growing number of teams utilize the slot receiver position, and this has led to an increase in the number of pass attempts targeted toward these players.
The term slot was coined in the 1960s by Sid Gillman, who coached the Oakland Raiders and won a Super Bowl in 1977. He was known for utilizing two wide receivers and a running back on the weak side of the defense, and he wanted his receivers to have speed, great hands, and be precise with their route-running. When Al Davis took over as head coach of the Raiders in 1963, he continued to employ these strategies and created the slot receiver position.
Today, a slot is most commonly referred to as the second wide receiver on an offense. Some of the best slot receivers in the NFL are Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Cooper Kupp, and Odell Beckham Jr., and they often have better receiving stats than the team’s top wideouts. In addition to catching passes, slot receivers are often asked to block on running plays such as slants and sweeps.
A slot receiver’s most crucial skill is his ability to read the defense and quickly find open space. He must be able to run all of the standard passing routes, but must excel at inside and outside routes as well as deep and short ones. He must have good chemistry with the quarterback and be precise with his route-running to make sure he is open for the ball.
Slot receivers are also asked to block on running plays, and they must be able to protect the ball carrier by picking up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players. On running plays that don’t involve them as the ball carrier, they act as big decoys to create openings for other runners. The best slot receivers in the NFL have excellent balance between speed, size, and strength to be able to excel in both running and passing. They are also very agile and have the ability to change directions quickly on screen plays.