Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Scouting Glossary: The In-Set and the Peek Techniques with Stanford WR Michael Wilson

Matt Waldman defines the basics of the In-Set and the Peek Techniques in this edition of the RSP NFL Scouting Glossary with the help of a play from Stanford NFL Draft Prospect, WR Michael Wilson

What Is An In-Set?

A technique during the stem of a route, an in-set is a wide receiver’s movement that leans inside. The purpose of the technique is to manipulate the coverage into thinking that the receiver is beginning a break to the inside when he’s actually preparing to break outside.

Receivers typically perform this technique after they’ve placed a defender in a trailing position during the stem of the route. From this position, coverage in a trailing position is more susceptible to react to the In-Set regardless of whether they have help from a safety over the top or they are in man-to-man coverage.

If they have help over the top, the defender will believe they have a strong chance of undercutting the route from a trailing position if the receiver’s leaning inside is a tip-off of a break to the inside. In the heat of the moment, defenders become far more reactive to receiver movement when a receiver earns vertical separation on him–even if they have help from up high.

If the defender is playing man-to-man with no help over the top, the sense of urgency to regain ground on the receiver is heightened to the point that they are more likely to react to movement as if it’s a tell rather than a manipulative ploy.

On its own, the In-Set can bait a defender in the wrong direction, especially when the receiver has earned a step or two on the defender and has cut directly in front of the coverage. However, most wide receivers combine the In-Set with the Peek Technique.

What Is A Peek Technique?

Receivers often use their eyes and/or heads to manipulate coverage to react in the wrong direction. When a receiver turns his head and eyes in the opposite direction of their intended break before they reach the top of their stem, this is a Peek Technique.

The Peek Technique is like the exclamation point at the end of the In-Set’s sentence or the cherry on top of the In-Set’s sundae. It’s an additional detail to the effort to manipulate the defender in the wrong direction.

The In-Set or the Peek can manipulate coverage as singular ploys. However, the two complement each other perfectly and are generally more effective together than separately.

What An In-Set and Peek Looks Like on Film with Stanford WR Michael Wilson

Wilson is one of the best manipulators in his stem among the route runners in the 2023 NFL Draft class. This alone won’t make him a productive NFL player, but Wilson’s use of a variety of techniques during the meat of the route is often missing from college prospects as well as many young pros.

Here’s a route against Notre Dame where Wilson combines the In-Set and the Peek to break open. This is not the only time Wilson has demonstrated this pairing of techniques on film.

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