In his second season in the NFL, Denver Broncos cornerback Ja'Quan McMillian has put many on notice since taking over as the team's starting slot defender. Following a historically poor showing from Denver's secondary in Weeks 1-5, McMillian has been a huge piece to the puzzle for the group's defensive turnaround in the last eight games.
After a rough start to the season, the Broncos' front office decided to move on from starting slot corner Essang Bassey which then led to McMillian's opportunity to showcase his talent on the biggest stage in an increased role. Since then, the young defensive back has taken off like a rocket.
McMillian, 23, has two interceptions, four pass breakups, seven tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two sacks, and two fumble recoveries in 12 games. The second-year corner has been involved in a staggering six total takeaways since Week 8. Just remarkable. McMillian has an obvious knack for the ball and always seems to be making plays for the Broncos' defense. He has been the true playmaker that Denver has been missing at the cornerback position since the departures of Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr.
Not only does he always seem to be making plays around the football, but he is incredibly impactful at stopping the run and blitzing the quarterback. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has sort of been utilizing him as a chess piece during the last three games or so and it has worked to perfection. McMillian has missed just four tackles out of 483 defensive snaps this season and has been super efficient in making plays inside the box to improve Denver's run defense.
With Pro Bowl voting reaching a halt in less than two weeks, Ja'Quan McMillian's name has come up as a potential option as one of the AFC's selections at cornerback, and rightfully so. McMillian possesses one of the lowest completion percentages allowed in the NFL when targeted this season at a mere 54.3%. In a short period of time, he has undoubtedly shaped into a top-five slot cornerback in the NFL and would be rightfully awarded with a Pro Bowl selection at the minimum. McMillian's value to Denver's secondary is truly not appreciated enough around the NFL.
The former undrafted free agent is playing at an incredibly high level and is doing it consistently every week. It is due time he is given the recognition he deserves and if his stellar level of play continues as well, general manager George Paton and the Broncos may have to begin discussing a contract extension for the young star sooner than expected.