Denver Broncos cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian enters his second season in the NFL after navigating the path as an undrafted rookie free agent last season.

Having played his college football career at East Carolina University, the Broncos’ young cornerback and former All-American has started training camp by emerging into a standout player to watch for this preseason.

Last year, McMillian was on the Broncos practice squad roster and approached every week as if his number was being called up. This was something that the coaching staff and defensive backs coach Christian Parker saw on a weekly basis.

“J-Mac was on the practice squad all year last year,” Parker said. “But one thing about him is that we usually meet with those guys later on in the week to kind of keep them up to speed with what we’re doing. One thing with [McMillian] is he knew the game plan every week. He knew what we were trying to get done; he knew the opposing offense. So when he got his opportunity, there was no doubt that he was going to go out there and perform, and I think that gave him confidence coming into the offseason. He had already proven that he could do it, and I was kind of taking it a step further with it not being a surprise but being an expectation for everybody.”

So far throughout training camp, McMillian has carried that expectation into his daily preparation.

Mile High Sports had the chance to talk with McMillian in an exclusive one-on-one.

The biggest thing he’s gained so far coming into this season is more confidence. Broncos head coach Sean Payton has coined the phrase, “Confidence is born out of demonstrated ability,” and that’s been shown consistently by the second-year cornerback.

“Just a lot more confidence,” McMillian said. “I got a year under my belt. I learn from the older guys, I’m just using whatever I’m learning and trying to use it to my best advantage on the field. I’m just more confident; I learned a lot and am more familiar with the speed of the game.”

McMillian stepped up in a big way last season for the Broncos defense in Week 18, where he started against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Not only did he hold his own in coverage against Chargers star wide receiver Mike Williams, but he was also active against the run, tallying seven tackles in the Broncos win.

“It’s unbelievable,” McMillian reflected on his first career start. “Just to go out there and have the opportunity to be here is always great. That is the way I prepare. Coming out here each and every day, even though I was on the practice squad, I was trying to get better each and every day. In the meeting room, a lot of guys around the league, if you’re not on the 53, they’re not really trying to work or pay attention to you. I stayed in tune with everything and did scouting reports even though I knew I wasn’t playing. I was still studying film and talking to the older guys, asking them questions, and when my time was here; I was ready.”

McMillian has sharpened his technique on the field, and it’s easy to tell how honed in he is on the little details during team periods, one-on-ones, or even individual drills. He’s got sharp lateral quickness and good footwork and has demonstrated consistently playing through contact, using his ball-side hand to knock passes away while in coverage.

The Denver Broncos’ young cornerback acknowledged that it was easier at times in college to get away without playing with technique, but said the speed of the NFL and how tough each opponent is has helped him focus on the little details that he now masters every day at practice.

Now that the pads have come on, McMillian is noticeably more physical, which he attributed to putting on more muscle during the offseason.

He’s in a prime position as camp continues to solidify himself as a true CB3 behind Patrick Surtain and Damarri Mathis and will get every opportunity to stake that claim during the preseason.

The Denver Broncos will return to the practice field on Wednesday morning as training camp continues.