Football Slot Receiver

Football Slot Receiver

In the sport of football, there are different types of receivers on an offensive unit. Some receivers may be lined up in the “slot” area, positioned between the offensive line and another wide receiver. Slot receivers may be specialized for this specific position or just wide receivers who get lined up in the slot.

What Is a Slot Receiver in Football?

The slot receiver is usually lined up just behind the line of scrimmage, but may need to be on the line of scrimmage to maintain seven players on the line. They are named slot receivers because they are wide receivers that line up in the “slot,” the area between and slightly behind the outer wide receivers and the offensive linemen. Slot receivers are also sometimes called “slotbacks,” though this term can be used to refer to any player who lines up in the slot.

In the past decade or so, the professional game has started to rely on slot receivers a lot more. Physically, slot receivers tend to be shorter and quicker than most traditional wide receivers. Recent seasons have seen slot receivers targeted on nearly 40 percent of passing attempts. As offenses increasingly use the 3-1 receiver/back configuration, defenses rely on the nickel and dime packages as a counter. Some of the teams that have most heavily utilized slot receivers in the past few seasons are the Buccaneers, Chiefs, Raiders, Falcons, and Dolphins.


On passing plays, slot receivers run routes that correspond with the other receivers in an attempt to confuse the defense. Slot receivers often face an increased risk of injury, though, because they are closer to the middle of the field and, therefore, more vulnerable to big hits from different angles.

On running plays, slot receivers are important blockers for the ball carrier. They are in a spot on the field that is crucial for sweeps and slant runs to be successful.

Slot receivers are also often used in motion before the ball is snapped. Players are set in motion so that the quarterback may be able to read the defense. If a defensive back follows a player in motion across the center of the formation, the defense is likely in man-to-man coverage. But if the defense reacts minimally to the receiver’s movement, they are likely in a zone coverage scheme.

Slot Receiver Skills

Slot receivers must have a number of skills that correlate to their roles on the field. As with all receivers, slot receivers must be quick, but speed and agility are more emphasized with slot receivers, as they often have to run complex routes that involve a lot of elusion and evasion. Slot receivers can also be larger and more robust in order to block and escape tackles, but teams tend to focus more on speed in regard to slot receivers.

Notable NFL Slot Receivers

Although the slot receiver is a generally new concept, there are some legendary NFL players who thrive when lined up in the slot. These include:

  • Charlie Joiner
  • Brandon Stokely
  • Wes Welker
  • Cooper Kupp
  • Tyreek Hill
  • Davante Adams
  • Tyler Boyd
  • Travis Kelce
  • Hunter Renfrow
  • Julian Edelman
  • Cole Beasley
  • Larry Fitzgerald Jr.
  • Randall Cobb


What is the slot in football?

The slot in football is the area between the outer offensive lineman on either side of center and the wide receiver. The slot exists outside the edges of the offensive line and can serve as an offensive or defensive area. In plays requiring a third wide receiver, a slot receiver may line up in the slot. Slotbacks also occupy the slot but provide additional blocking and running options.

What positions play in the slot in football?

The positions that play in the slot in football are the slot receiver, slotback, and slot corner. The slot receiver is a third wide receiver that lines up between the outer lineman and the wide receiver on the sideline. A slotback lines up in a similar position, but typically farther back from the line of scrimmage in order to provide blocking and running options when needed. The slot corner is the cornerback that defends against slot receivers and slotbacks playing in the slot.

What is a slotback in football?

A slotback in football is a back with offensive and defensive options that lines up between the outer offensive lineman and the sideline wide receiver. Slotbacks can be required to run a route for a pass like a wide receiver, take a handoff for a run like a running back, or block like a linebacker. Slotback is not a designated player position; rather it is a role filled by specialized running backs and wide receivers that possess the necessary complementary skills.