MOBILE, Ala. — Ryan Anderson was almost offended at the question.
Anderson injured his thumb during Senior Bowl practice on Tuesday and had X-rays that night. But when asked if he would be able to practice and play in the Saturday’s all-star game, Anderson scoffed.
“Hell yeah,” Anderson shot back.
Anderson practiced on Wednesday and showed no sign of being limited. He was reportedly unavailable for Thursday’s practice.
Anderson hopes his toughness and versatility show scouts and NFL teams that he’s worth a high pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, which begins April 27.
RELATED: Nick Saban touts Anderson’s ability
CBSSports.com rates Anderson as the 6th-best outside linebacker and the 57th overall prospect. He is a possible second-round selection.
Anderson said he is most comfortable on the edge but is confident he can play inside linebacker as well as defensive end in 4-3 schemes.
“I’m open to anything,” Anderson said. “I can play anything they want me to play because of my ability to learn, my willingness to compete and do the best job anywhere they’re going to line me up on the field.”
Some Alabama players received more headlines and won national awards. Still, Anderson’s play was undeniable the past two years at Alabama.
As a junior in 2015, Anderson had 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.
As a senior in 2016, Anderson tied Tennessee’s Derek Barnett for first in the SEC with 19 tackles for loss.
Anderson also tied for second on the team with nine sacks and forced a team-high four fumbles.
“Ryan Anderson played great for us. … (He) was a really good leader on our team,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Very, very consistent performer. He could probably play inside ‘backer or outside ‘backer, and he’s got some pass rush ability. I think his versatility as a player creates a lot of value for him.”
Anderson and Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce were teammates at Daphne (Ala.) High School. They were a part of Daphne’s undefeated state championship team in 2010. Pierce said Anderson has “come a long way” from the young player he remembers.
“He’s always had the physical tools, but to see how he’s grown mentally over the years with the tutelage of Nick Saban has been tremendous. He’s a totally different player,” Pierce told SEC Country. “Just from a mental standpoint, you can see that his game is far ahead of some of his peers. It’s a great thing to see.”
Pierce recalls watching Anderson dissect Texas A&M’s plays during a film room session on the SEC Network. Pierce also noted Anderson’s simulated snap count in Alabama’s Peach Bowl win over Washington. While laughing and acknowledging that it was “illegal,” Pierce said that type of play recognition and acumen isn’t often seen at the college level.
Pierce wouldn’t mind teaming up with Anderson again.
“He’s a great physical player,” Pierce said. “His sack production is something that is paramount and every team needs. He plays the run extremely well. He’s a well-rounded guy, and some team is going to be lucky to have him. Hopefully it’s us.”