Pro Football Focus has published several “best” and “worst” lists over the last couple of weeks, taking different looks at the NFL based on their player grading system and pairing it with things like the player’s contract or how a team utilizes him. One of those “best” lists was their “10 Best Slot Weapons in the NFL.”
This list is a little different than the normal look at the slot position - because it considers the players who are defending the slot as well as the receivers who normally man the position, and adds in the tight ends who often get split out into the slot. PFF explains, “Players that occupy the slot, on offense and defense, are de-facto starters that can see upward of 700 snaps on the right team, even without seeing the field on early downs or certain packages.”
The list starts with Arizona Cardinals cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, then moves to New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. The first wide receiver does not appear on the list until the fourth spot, where the Seattle Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin lands. It does not take long for another receiver to make the list, however, as the Miami Dolphins find Jarvis Landry in the fifth position.
Slot receivers in today’s NFL are often employed outside too. Jarvis Landry has become one of the league’s best slot weapons, but lines up outside on nearly a third of his snaps, and played 891 total snaps over the season. He is one of the slot receivers that starts games and plays snaps on base downs as well before kicking inside to the slot in sub-packages. Landry is a missed tackle machine from the slot, forcing 28 missed tackles last season as a receiver, and another 12 on his gimmick carries, the most among receivers.
Landry set the franchise record for receptions in a seasons last year, catching 110 passes, while gaining 1,157 yards with four touchdowns. He also ran the ball 18 times for 113 yards with another score. He was selected to his first Pro Bowl following the season.
Landry is starting to receiver notice as a top receiver in the league, and should be considered among the elite slot receivers in the NFL. He may see some of his numbers dip this year, as defenses focus more on him and as the team looks to get DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Leonte Carroo, Jakeem Grant, Jordan Cameron, and Dion Sims more involved in the passing game. Whatever his 2016 stats become, Landry is clearly one of the top slot weapons in the league.