No matter who you are, football is a game that takes a serious toll on your body. Some players hit the wall early, some last over a decade but eventually every player begins to decline. Here are eight players previously worthy of a first-round draft pick that have become risky picks on the decline.
Steve Smith (CAR)
Smith peaked when he caught over 100 passes for over 1,550 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2005 but has been unable to return to his former greatness stuck with lousy quarterbacking and no support. Over the past two years his problems have been compounded by injuries and he went from an off year in 2009 when he caught for 980 yards to a six-year low of 554 yards in 2010. He's going to be 32 this season, possibly headed to a new team (or playing with an inexperienced quarterback in Carolina), and has had to miss time due to injury in each of the last five seasons.
Tony Gonzalez (ATL)
Gonzalez has seen declines in his numbers since he came to Atlanta in 2009. He had been the primary target in Kansas City which helped him grab 1,000+ yards in four seasons. Once he went to a team with receivers, his numbers dipped into the 900s in 2009 and 600s last season. With Roddy White and now Julio Jones vying for Matt Ryan's attention - and the fact that Gonzalez will turn 35 this season, means Gonzalez will see an even lesser role.
LaDanian Tomlinson (NYJ)
LT looked like he was on the verge of a spectacular comeback in 2010 but sputtered out in the second half of the season. He rebounded from the 730 yards he had in 2009 but showed that he was no longer the Tomlinson of old. He will lose even more snaps to Shonn Greene this season and at 32-years-old should continue to decline.
Thomas Jones (KC)
The man that Tomlinson replaced had two fantastic seasons with the Jets before coming over to Kansas City. Splitting time with Jamaal Charles, Jones failed to reach 900 yards and saw his yards per carry drop by .5 yards. He will likely lose even more carries to Charles this season and at 33 he will not have the running based attack he had in New York.
Matt Hasselbeck (SEA)
Hasselbeck passed for nearly 4,000 yards in 2007 when he led the Seahawks to the SuperBowl but injuries and inconsistency has gotten the best of him since. He missed most of the season in 2008 and barely surpassed 3,000 yards in the past two seasons. His touchdowns dropped from just 17 in 2009 to a meager 12 in 2010 while he threw 17 interceptions in the last two consecutive seasons. We have seen Pete Carroll work miracles though...
Ronnie Brown (MIA)
Brown's lone 1,000+ season came in 2006 and he has surpassed 735 yards just once since. Injuries and ineffectiveness have stopped Brown's career in its tracks as he fell to just 3.7 yards per carry in 2010. He may or may not return to Miami but no team will give him 200 carries again.
Terrell Owens (CIN)
Owens had a very good season for a 37-year-old receiver in 2010 but his 980 yards is hardly the T.O. of old. The 980 is seemingly the extent of his potential and as he moves into his 16th season in the NFL and probably a less prominent role he is unlikely to hit that number again.
Chad Ochocinco (CIN)
After a string of great seasons from 2002 to 2007 (though that was back when he was Chad Johnson) he has never returned to his former glory. Actually, Chad Ochocinco has never had the success as Chad Johnson and caught just 67 passes for 830 yards in 2010. After catching for over 15.5 yards per reception and 9-10 touchdowns, he saw just 12.4 yards per reception and 4 touchdowns last season.