A slot is a small opening in something, such as an airfoil or wing. They are often used to add extra functionality or a visual element.
A Slot Receiver is a receiver with a specific skill set that sets them apart from other wideouts on the field. Unlike the outside receiver, they are more skilled at running shorter routes on the route tree that can stretch defenses vertically.
When they aren’t catching the ball, Slot Receivers may be called on to run the ball from time to time, and they can also be used as a blocker for the quarterback. This is especially true of pitch plays, reverses and end-arounds.
The Slot Receiver is a very important part of the offense because they can do so many things that other receivers cannot. They are a speedy player who can run past defenders and they have excellent hands.
They are a key part of the slot formation, which Al Davis developed while coaching the Raiders. He wanted slot receivers to have speed, great hands and to be precise with their routes and timing.
They can also help out the running back by blocking nickelbacks and outside linebackers on outside run plays, and they provide coverage for slot corners when called upon. They’re also crucial to sealing off the outside on passing plays designed for the runner. They don’t deal with crushing blocks like offensive linemen do, but they have to be able to get in front of a defender and prevent them from getting to the ball carrier.