During the Buffalo Bills’ season-opening win against the Los Angeles Rams last Thursday night, we saw wide receiver Stefon Diggs operate out of the slot more than a few times. It makes sense. Diggs is the perfect receiver to play in the slot when you think about it. He’s a great route runner with elite feet, quickness, and hands. Let’s take a closer look at how Diggs was able to manipulate the Rams’ defense to his advantage.
In the slot, players want to take advantage of mismatches based on personnel. Here we see an EDGE, Leonard Floyd, drop back in coverage against Diggs. We see Diggs create separation against a less quick and slower-footed athlete in space. Then Diggs uses that separation to run upfield for yards after the catch as Floyd trails him.
With Diggs in the slot, the Rams employ bracket coverage with two defenders to take him out of the play. Diggs combats this with his phenomenal awareness. He slips through the bracket coverage by subtly getting behind both defenders. This allows Diggs to become open for a potential play. This play ended up going nowhere because Josh Allen was sacked. If Allen had more time to scramble it’s safe to assume he’d have found Diggs.
Operating out of the slot, timing and reliability is everything. Players have to be on the same page with the quarterback since they’re his safety net. Here we see Diggs run his route. As the ball is coming out of Allen’s hands Diggs turns his head. Diggs then adjusts his body to Allen’s throw by going low to the ground to make the catch.
Stefon Diggs is a fantastic player and clearly one of the best outside receivers in the NFL. The great thing with Diggs though, is he can play the slot, too. He has the feet, quickness, hips, hands, route running, and awareness to excel at that position. I think if Diggs played the slot full time, he’d be a consistent 100-catch receiver. It’s a nice luxury to know whenever the Bills want, they can deploy Diggs in the slot for elite production.