The Overlooked Slot Receiver

By FirstDown PlayBook on Mar 17, 2022

The slot receiver is one of the most under appreciated people during recruiting and NFL draft season. However, this usually corrects itself on multiple third downs over the course of the following football season. That is if an offensive coordinator understands how to use this slot receiver.

I have personally sat in many a recruiting or draft meeting as we watched tape and discussed personnel. The normal conversations usually go like this. Johnny is 6’4 and runs a 4.4 40 yard dash. He will go up and get the football in traffic and …insert all of the other selling points.

As the meetings wind down over the hours and sometimes days, we would start looking at receivers with slightly less impressive measurables. Wes’s forty time is only 4.61. He’s 5’10, which draws the inevitable remark from at least one coach who says, “I could eat popcorn off the top of his head”.

Can We Get Him To Walk On?

As the tape rolls on though, the kid just keeps making play after play. That is if the quarterback on his team can throw it a lick. Wes is a slot receiver who just “has a feel” for getting open. He understands when to sit down in a zone. This player also knows when to separate vs man coverage. After the catch, he gets positive yardage and yards after catch is his strong suite.

At some point during the meeting(s), it is suggested that we try to get Wes to walk on. Also, if we can’t get Johnny, we can come back and offer Wes late. After all he only has two MAC offers…

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Fast forward to a Saturday or even Sunday three years later and Wes has eight catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins. It is a mystery to every fan and announcer how Wes Welker, Julian Edelman or Cooper Kupp was not rated any higher as they came out of high school. It happens every year and we promise you, it is happening right now. You just don’t know the name yet of the next Cooper Kupp.

Are You Using Switch Releases At The Line Of Scrimmage?

Our point here today is that if you have a slot receiver who is hard to tag in a phone booth, (these are all cliches you use when you coach football) find ways to get that player the ball. The throws are normally short quick passes that are out of the quarterback’s hand quickly. That’s a good thing. Your line coach will love you for this too.

On our way out the door today, we will leave you with this F Juke pass play. If you understand how to coach it, it is about impossible to cover, unless you bracket the slot. Also, we want to point out that there are many slot receivers out there in flag football who are not being used properly too. Using your slot receiver has big time benefits for you as well.

Next: Use Multiple Formations With Very Few Pass Concepts