It is common belief that most NFL wide receivers destined for stardom have their "break-out" year in their third season. With two years under their belt, most young receivers see huge jumps in production during what is now deemed to be the most important year in a young wide receiver's career. As Bills fans, we were witness to a break-out performance from a third-year receiver last season as Lee Evans increased his career highs in receptions by 34 and yards by 449. Is Roscoe Parrish our next break-out performer at wide receiver?
Parrish the Playmaker
Parrish's first two years have been marked by big plays, lots of flash and some inconsistency. Used mainly as a gadget-type receiver and punt return man, Parrish's career receiving numbers aren't overly impressive (38 receptions, 468 yards and 3 TD in two seasons). Yet his speed, freakish agility and athleticism are undeniable, and most feel that he has the talent and work ethic to be a much bigger contributor to an NFL offense.
An offense tailored for Roscoe?
Much has been made recently about the Bills' probable use of a multi-WR, no-huddle approach on offense this season. With Willis McGahee out of the picture, the focus of the offense will shift from a power running game to more of a wide-open feel, with quarterback J.P. Losman being the emphasis. Versatile running backs, tight ends and a deep stable of wideouts will likely spell spread formations and more big plays this season. It is this development, coupled with his continued maturity, that could make Parrish a huge weapon for Losman in '07.
There are downsides to Parrish as a player. The most cited of these issues is his size, where his 5'9", 170-pound frame isn't exactly suited to wallops from big safeties on crossing patterns. As was mentioned a few days ago in an article from the Buffalo News, however, Bills offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild values "separation" in receivers, rather than size. Even with still-raw skills, Parrish is the best separator of our wide receiver corps, consistently gaining cushion between himself and defenders. Simply put, he gets open.
There's also the issue of the team's depth. The Bills have the look of a potential offensive juggernaut, and at this point the two players most likely to receive the majority of the touches are Evans and rookie running back Marshawn Lynch. Peerless Price and Josh Reed remain viable targets as well, and tight ends Robert Royal, Kevin Everett and Brad Cieslak figure to have more prominent roles as well. With so many options, will Parrish see enough looks to really make a big jump?
Let's get one thing straight: in terms of style of play and athleticism, Roscoe Parrish is a rare, potentially elite NFL talent. With his value on special teams as a punt returner sky-high, I don't expect Parrish to be the main focus of the offense by any stretch of the imagination. But this guy is too good to keep touches away from him. I look for the Bills to use him much more this season, with a 40 catch, 500+ yard, 5 TD season not out of the question. This doesn't really fall under the category of "break out player", in my mind, but down the line (read: when Peerless Price decides to hang it up), I see Parrish as a contender for this team's #2 wideout position. He's that talented, and he'll have the chance to prove it this season.