A slot is a narrow opening or gap in something that allows it to fit, such as an expansion slot on a computer motherboard. A slot can also refer to a time period when an activity is scheduled to take place, such as a flight with a designated departure time.
A Slot receiver typically lines up a few steps off the line of scrimmage, and while they may not have to deal crushing blocks like their outside counterparts, they are still very important in helping to seal off the defense on running plays. The quarterback will often call a Slot receiver into pre-snap motion so that they can help block nickelbacks, outside linebackers, or safeties on running plays to the middle of the field.
The best Slot receivers are route runners and have good hands and footwork to avoid getting hit by defenders. They are also very fast and can get open quickly. A strong Slot receiver can run every kind of route in the book and have excellent timing to get open against zone coverage.
Generally, Slot receivers will be listed as wide receivers on the team’s depth chart and may be used in a variety of ways. Outside receivers such as Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Stefon Diggs will often play in the Slot from time to time to keep their skills fresh. This is due to their versatility and the fact that they are capable of blocking well in the Slot position.