Much like the third cornerback has worked its way into being considered a starting position in today's NFL, so, too, has the slot wide receiver.
While there isn't a prototype for the slot receiver—many teams employ different styles of receivers in the slot—there are certain intangibles every slot receiver needs to have and they can be very damaging to an opponent's defense.
ProFootballFocus.com has taken a close look at the slot receiver and broke down the four types of receivers that typically man what is becoming a premium position in the NFL.
The Falcons' Harry Douglas is Atlanta's primary slot receiver, though tight end Tony Gonzalez runs a lot of his routes out of the same position. Douglas' promising rookie year in 2008 was interrupted by a knee injury in 2009 that knocked him out for the season. Two seasons removed from the injury, the '08 third-round pick re-signed with Atlanta in the offseason and could be poised to have a season that will get him mentioned among the league's best out of the slot.
Of PFF.com's four slot types, Douglas most closely resembles the "Welkers," a quick and shifty type of player that can take the short pass and make it into something big with yards after the catch. Though Douglas recorded 12.8 yards per catch last season, the lowest of his career, his exciting performances as a punt returner during his rookie season shows his ability to move well with the ball in his hands in space.
While on an appearance with 790 The Zone's "Mayhem in the AM" last week, Douglas said the hiring of new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and the role he envisions for Douglas was a big factor behind Douglas' re-signing with the Falcons.
"Coach Koetter, he's a good guy," Douglas said. "I sat down and talked with him before I signed back here. The stuff he sees and the stuff he does, it's good. It's good because he's going to play to our strengths. It's always good when you can do that."
Atlanta has remained patient with Douglas as he's worked his way back from the injuries of his second season. With so many weapons in place and a scheme that wants to utilize him, Douglas may be about to return the favor in 2012.