Slot receivers in the NFL aren’t always given the respect they deserve. Not only are they forced to do all the dirty work on the inside but in many cases, their numbers don’t reflect just what is asked of them on any given play.
Our friends over at Touchdown Wire ranked the 11 best slot receivers in the NFL and as expected, Smith-Schuster scored well, checking in at No. 4 overall.
Here’s what they had to say about Smith-Schuster:
The Steelers went with a short passing game through most of the 2020 season whether they wanted to or not. That benefited Smith-Schuster as a slot receiver, as his numbers in that position went way up in 2020 — he caught 25 of 38 slot targets for 316 yards and two touchdowns in 2019, and saw that shoot up to 39 slot receptions on 119 targets for 888 yards and 10 touchdowns. We’ll see what the Steelers’ passing offense looks like in 2021 — there are questions about everything from the stability of the offensive line to the condition of Ben Roethlisberger’s arm to how things will look under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada — but it’s likely that Smith-Schuster will continue his prolific slot performances.
The most interesting thing about the top four is that Smith-Schuster is the only guy who you could say isn’t a true No. 1 receiver. But the other three, Tyler Lockett, Keenan Allen and Tyreek Hill are. Assuming Diontae Johnson can put the drops of 2020 behind him, Smith-Schuster has a chance to be downright dominant in the slot this season.