Mike Tice was part of the Raiders' organizational restructure this offseason, hired to coach up the team's offensive line.
As an offensive mind with nearly two decades of experience coaching in the NFL, Tice already likes what he's seeing in Oakland.
“I’m pretty excited about the group I have to work with. First of all, it’s the biggest -– I was telling my wife and some friends the other day -– it’s the biggest, most athletic group of guys I’ve worked with before,” Tice said on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Tice knows a thing or two about talent, given his decorated history in the pros.
He was part of a staff that coached one of the highest-scoring offenses in NFL history, which was the 1998 Minnesota Vikings (556 points).
Tice was the offensive line coach then, and eventually became head coach. The only two offenses to score more points in a 16-game season were the 2007 New England Patriots (589) and 2013 Denver Broncos (606).
“I think the guys on the offensive side are very impressive," Tice elaborated. "We have a good blend of older and middle-aged and some younger guys that are going be to rising stars in the league.”
The offensive line, as of now, includes tackles Menelik Watson, Donald Penn and Austin Howard, along with interior lineman in J'Marcus Webb, Tony Bergstrom, Khalif Barnes, and most notably, Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson, who was the team's top free-agent signee.
There is also a great deal of experience and versatility within the group, as many of the unit's players are journeymen that have played multiple positions on the line.
But Tice is also excited about the youth up front.
“I think a guy that’s had the best offseason of everybody, and that’s Gabe Jackson out of Mississippi State," the Raiders O-line coach said.
"[I’ve] had some familiarity with him in the Senior Bowl two years ago, when we coached the Senior Bowl when I was in Atlanta, he was on the opposing team and I got to spend some time with him. Gabe is a big, athletic, strong — great football background. His dad was a high school football coach. I think he’s a rising star. I think he has a chance to be a really good one.”
Jackson, 23, was the 81st overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Mississippi State. A first-team All-SEC player, he was regarded as one of the top offensive guards coming out that year.
Jackson played in 13 games last season for the Raiders, starting 12 of them.
Along with the veterans that make up most of the Raiders' line, Tice will have a quality prospect to develop in Oakland.