What Is A Draw Play In Football?

A draw play in football is a rushing play that starts with the quarterback acting is if he is going to pass the ball. As the defensive line gets into the offensive backfield the ball is handed to the running back who carries it up the middle of the field.

The purpose of a draw play in football is to trick the opposing team into thinking that the rushing play is actually a passing play. If the fake works the defensive line will find themselves out of position making it more difficult for them to make the tackle.

In most situations, draw plays are going to be run out of the shotgun formation. The shotgun formation involves the quarterback standing roughly five yards back from the line of scrimmage with the running back beside him.

This will encourage the defense to rush deeper into the offensive backfield as the quarterback has already started five yards back from the line.

To learn what can go wrong on football plays like the draw learn about busted plays in football or learn about other rushing plays like an off tackle run.

Positional Responsibilities On Draw Plays

Now that you understand what a draw play is it’s time to break down exactly how this play works. Below we are going to go through each position and what they do to contribute during a draw play.


quarterback handing off the ball

On a draw play the quarterback is going to start off by calling for the snap. The center will then snap the ball to the quarterback in the shotgun position.

The quarterback will hold the balls in his hands with his eyes focused downfield. Looking downfield at his receivers is going to trick the defenders into believing it is a passing play.

Once the defensive line have taken a few steps past the line of scrimmage the quarterback will hand off the ball to the running back standing beside him.

Offensive Line

The offensive line plays a large role on draw plays, more so than most running plays. These players are key to the fake pass built into draw plays.

To start the play the offensive line is going to back up slowly as if they are in pass protection. This will trick the defensive line into thinking it is a passing play.

The offensive line will allow the defender to work their way into the offensive backfield. During this rush, the offensive lineman will try and work the pass rushers towards the outside.

This will help to create an opening in the middle of the offensive line for the ball carrier.

Running Back

running back rushing the ball

The running back will start a draw play by feigning they are staying in the pocket for pass protection.

Oftentimes running backs are tasked with pass protection. On these plays, the running back will stay in the pocket and look for defenders that get past the offensive line.

In order to imitate this behaviour, the running will have to act as if they looking for pass rushers to block to start the play. This way the defense will not expect the running back to get the handoff on these draw plays.

After a second or two the running back will move towards the quarterback and take the handoff. The running back will then take the ball and run through the hole made by the offensive line.

In draw plays, the hole tends to be between the guard and center. This area is often open because the offensive line has pushed the pass rushers to the outside of the pocket.

Wide Receivers

Wide receivers play a larger role on draw plays than they do in most running plays. Since most running plays don’t involve the receivers getting the ball or making key blocks they are often fairly low effort.

Though on a draw play the receivers must convince the defense that a pass play is coming. This means the first second or two of the receivers routes must look realistic.

Additionally, the routes are going to be run with a purpose. Receivers will be given deep routes on this play in order to pull the defensive backs further away from the line of scrimmage.

By clearing these defensive backs out of the box it is going to take them longer to get back and make a tackle once they realize the ball has been handed off.

That conludes this article on draw plays learn about others such as dive rushing plays or the triple option offense plays.

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