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Broncos roster review: Rookie cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian

The undrafted rookie cornerback could push for a roster spot.

East Carolina v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos started to sign multiple undrafted free agents to add to their roster. One of the players the Broncos targeted and ended up signing was former East Carolina cornerback, Ja’Quan McMillian.

McMillian is a 5’10”, 181-pound corner who was a ball-hawking cornerback for East Carolina. He played three seasons at East Carolina and turned into one of the better ball-hawking cornerbacks in the country during his time there. During his three seasons, McMillian totaled 127 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 12 interceptions, 1 defensive touchdown, 28 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. This past season, McMillian totaled 56 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 5 interceptions, 16 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble.

McMillian joins a Broncos secondary that has spots open for competition. Obviously, 2021 first-round pick Pat Surtain II is the Broncos' number one corner while veteran Ronald Darby is their number two cornerback. They did sign veteran cornerback K’Waun Williams to be their slot cornerback as well. Also, they drafted rookie cornerback Damarri Mathis in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. After that, it’s fairly wide open for a roster spot.

Former third-round selection Michael Ojemudia has failed to impress during his time with the Broncos and now the GM and Head Coach who drafted him are gone. So, his spot on the roster is far from a guarantee. After that, you have veteran Blessuan Austin, Essang Bassey, rookie Faion Hicks, and Donnie Lewis Jr. fighting for the final spot or two on the roster.

Player Profile

Ja’Quan McMillian | Cornerback | Rookie
Height: 5’10” | Weight: 181 pounds | 40-time: 4.55 seconds
Arm Length: 29 inches | Hands: 8 5/8 inches
Vertical Jump: 36.5 inches | Broad Jump: 10’ | Short Shuttle: 4.25 seconds
3-Cone Drill: 6.76 seconds | Bench Press: 14 reps
Age: 21 years old(will turn 22 on June 4th)

Highlights

How Ja’Quan McMillian fits with the Denver Broncos

The Los Angeles Rams had a previously undrafted cornerback who is undersized but ended up flourishing in the NFL. That player is Darious Williams who just signed a three-year, $30 million dollar deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That is the type of player Williams former coaches hope they have here with the Denver Broncos.

McMillian is a ball-hawking cornerback that will be a slot corner in the NFL because of his size limitations. However, with the Broncos using more nickel and dime formations this upcoming season under defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, a player like this can have a role on defense.

However, as I will say with any of these bubble players, he will need to earn his worth on special teams to make the team. This might be a challenge for McMillian because he did not play on East Carolina’s coverage units throughout his college career. So, he will need to learn fast and impress there if he wants to make the team.

As for his competition, he has a decent chance to make the team. Michael Ojemudia hasn’t lived up to expectations and is a pick of the former regime. So, his roster spot is far from a guarantee. Then you have veteran corner Blessuan Austin, Essang Bassey, rookie Faion Hicks, and Donnie Lewis Jr. rounding out the cornerback group. These players fall under the same umbrella as McMillian and likely will be his main competition for a roster spot this summer.

What other analysts are saying about Broncos cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler on Broncos cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian from his annual draft guide.

SUMMARY: A three-year starter at East Carolina, McMillian was a boundary cornerback in defensive coordinator Blake Harrell’s scheme, playing both press-man and zone coverage. He made an immediate impact in Greenville and led the team in passes defended and interceptions each of the last three seasons, including an FBSbest 21 passes defended in 2021. McMillian uses quick, controlled steps to stay in phase and finishes with the innate ability to ball-search and disrupt the catch point. Highly aggressive against the pass and the run, he tends to freelance at times and abandons his technique in his pursuit of making plays, which will be exposed by high-end route runners in the NFL. Overall, McMillian is undersized and has only average speed, but he is an aggressive competitor with terrific instincts, eye use, and ball skills. He projects best in the nickel.

Ja’Quan McMillian’s RAS score

Final Thoughts

I think McMillian has the second-best odds to make the roster of all of the UDFA’s. Sure, he is undersized, but his ball skills are hard to ignore, he is an aggressive corner and joins a defensive coaching staff that has developed these types of players in the past.

As for his competition, Michael Ojemudia is far from a lock, Essang Bassey is a former UDFA added by the previous regime two years ago, and Austin is just a journeyman cornerback. So, if McMillian plays well and shows something on special teams, he has a good shot at earning himself a roster spot.

If not, if he were to clear waivers, he is likely a lock for a spot on the Broncos' 16-man practice squad

Poll

Do you think rookie RB Tyreik McAllister makes the Broncos 53-man roster?

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  • 53%
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