Player roles lets you rank players based on a formula that you create (for instance, if you value speed and could care less about shot blocking or durability, you could weight your formula so that it looks more at the former while ignoring the latter. You can also save multiple formulas (say, one for PG, one for SG, etc.). When you apply the formulas during recruiting, the recruits that match your standard rise to the top of your list regardless of what their overall rating is -- theoretically, it saves you the time of having to go line by line through the search screen judging for yourself which recruits best fit your system as you had to previously.
Unfortunately, there's no way to work potential into the formula in player roles, rendering the feature all-but-worthless in my opinion (it has minimal use still, but I'm honestly not sure it's worth the hassle it takes to develop and tweak the formula(s) when it comes down to a cost-benefit analysis). Basically, you're STILL going line by line through everything to evaluate who best fits your system...you just have the luxury now of also knowing who starts out there pre-potential and can evaluate them first.
Good concept feature in my opinion, just not developed to be very functional yet.