As Florida defensive end Jachai Polite considered whether to leave early for the NFL draft, Gators coach Dan Mullen brought up the business decision his star pass rusher was facing.Enter the draft to get paid now? Or come back to school to boost your draft stock and, potentially, make even more money?“I mean, if you’re a top-10 pick, you’re getting 30 million dollars,” Mullen said in December. “If you’re a second- or third-rounder, you’re getting 4 million dollars.”We don’t know what would have happened if Polite had returned to UF, but we know what happened after he turned pro. He was picked by the Jets in the third round F riday and will make, according to contract tracking website Spotrac , about $4 million.None of the four other Gators who left early were picked in the top 10, either, or even in the first round. Offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor was chosen in the second , and the other three (defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, linebacker Vosean Joseph and running back Jordan Scarlett) all went on Day 3. The combined expected contracts of all five: $21 million.Mullen didn’t know any of that when he spoke in December, and he never explicitly questioned the personal decision of Polite or any of the others to leave early. But he has made his general draft philosophies clear.If reputable experts think you’ll be a first-round pick, leave. If they think you’ll go in the second round, think about it. Anything else, stay. The goal shouldn’t only be to make it to the league. The goal should be to stay there for a long time.“I think in the future you’ll see Florida guys make better and better decisions leaving,” Mullen said in December. “You guys can go run the numbers, look over the last eight years. How many guys have left school that did not go in the first round, that made questionable decisions — how many of them got big second contracts?”From UF, the answer is one: tight end Jordan Reed. The 2013 third-round pick is playing on a five-year extension worth a guaranteed $22 million.Go back farther to the 2009 draft, just after Mullen left Gainesville to take over Mississippi State, and the results of UF’s early entrants are mixed.Of the 32 Gators who left early from 2009-18, just 14 went in the first two rounds. Only six so far have landed big, multi-year deals after their rookie contract (although two others have seen significant action beyond their first contract).Those numbers are comparable to those at the state’s other big schools. In that same time frame, Florida State, Miami, USF and UCF had 51 players declare early; 22 went in the first two rounds, and 16 have kept playing into a second contract.The debate around when to leave school intensified nationally this past weekend, after a record 144 players entered the draft early. More of them went undrafted (49) than in the first two rounds (36).Among the notable undrafted players were Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson, Alabama cornerback (and Pinellas County product) Saivion Smith and Texas A&M kicker Daniel LaCamera (East Lake High).Although it’d be easy to dismiss those decisions as mistakes, each one requires context beyond the eventual contract. Given the short careers of NFL running backs, how much would Scarlett have benefited from another year of taking hits for free? Gardner-Johnson recently became a father; how many of the other early entrants also have families to support? How many would have struggled to see the field, either because of academic issues or increased competition on the depth chart?All of that nuance means players’ dilemmas are complicated, and the right choice might not be clear for years.“When they weigh those things up, to me, I just hope guys make good decisions,” Mullen said. “I’ve seen it, you know as a coach … if it doesn’t work out, you’re the one left picking up the pieces.” Contact Matt Baker at email@example.com . Follow @MBakerTBTimes.