I discussed this in the Ro thread, but I wanted to highlight it here. I once was against students coming out early to go play in the NFL, but I have since changed my mind. Mostly because I don't begrudge a young man trying to maximize his earning potential, and if he decides that coming out will do that, then I'm all for it. Below is a brief summary of why I would advise most kids to go out early, keeping in mind I am not an expert in the NFL salary structure, I just know a little bit about it.
In the NFL, there is a severe limit to what you can make as a rookie, unless you're a top 10 pick. The reason for this is the team that drafts you has enormous leverage on you, no matter how talented you are you cannot negotiate with other teams. Typically, you will sign a deal for 3 or 4 years, and often the dollars per year a far lower than what you could earn in the free agent market.
Now, a first round pick will generally get a deal good enough to make them comfortable, but when you consider that this may be the only real money they earn their entire lives, it's not as much as it sounds. The real money is made once the rookie contract expires and they become unrestricted free agents. At that time, a player who has both proven his ability and shown that he can be expected to continue to produce can make a tremendous amount of money, as much as $15 or $20 million per year! The younger you are when you hit the unrestricted free agency, the more years you have to earn that kind of money. I think anyone would agree it's worth leaving school early for that.
This brings us to the real point of leaving early. Can you name the number of productive NFL players over the age of 30? Not too many make it to that age. Do you know how many yards Sean Alexander rushed for after turning 30? How many did Marshall Faulk?
The average NFL career only lasts 2 to 4 years, and even superstars don't usually last more than 8 or 10. Every year you spend in college means 1 less year you can earn real NFL money. If we are asking Ro to come back to Alabama, we are asking him to forfeit 10-15% of his lifetime earnings. I'm not prepared to do that, and neither should anyone else.
The only case in which I would advise a player to come back for his senior year is if he has not real hope of being drafted in the first 2 or 3 rounds. In that case, the extra year might improve his stock, and at any case the value of his extra year in college would be closer to the value of the money he'd earn in the NFL that one year. Otherwise, as a friend of mine once said, go make your money and then study how to spend it.