Before I get into my opinion...I want to restate for the record this isn't about comparing a rookie to a HoF'r or saying Bell is better. It's about who do you think would be most effective behind this OL...in this modern day NFL.
Comparing rookie years...
Bell=96.8 yards of production per game
Bettis=104.5 yards of production per game
Comparing Bettis' second season to Bell's rookie
Comparing Bettis' first year with the Steelers vs Bell's rookie year
So while some think it is a ridiculous question...I would suggest that behind a very lack luster OL...Bell found ways to be productive...in ways that compared very well to Bettis.
In todays NFL, I think it's more important to have a back who can catch...who can create mismatches with LBs in space with good hands and route running.
So in today's NFL behind our current OL...I think Bell vs Bettis is a very reasonable question. If you could guarantee me that Bell would be as healthy as Bettis...I know who I would choose.
BTW: within those years Bell beat Bettis in TD production in all but one of Bettis' seasons.
We'll see how his health holds up and longevity, right now, back the bus out of the garage and get it warmed up!
1.22) Alvin "Bud" Dupree, OLB/DE, Kentucky
2.56) Senquez Golson, CB/S, Ole Miss
3.87) Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
4.121) Doran Grant, CB, OSU
5.160) Jesse James, TE, PSU
6.199) Letterius Walton, DT, Central Michigan
6.212) Anthony Chickillo, DE, Miami
7.239) Gerod Holliman, FS, Louisville
The referee said that you hit Brian Sipe too hard. Did you hit him too hard?
I hit him as hard as I could - Jack Lambert
No, no, no... Bettis did it in a different era and without a franchise QB
How about this...who gets more production?
Bettis behind Beachum, Foster, Velasco, Decastro, Gilbert
Bell behind Marvel, Faneca, Hartings, Simmons, Starks
I think the fact that there is some pause for thought, shows that Bettis really shouldn't be a HOF. I mean, he was good don't get me wrong. But he was never "the best". How can you be considered HOF, when you were never considered the best of the best at your position, not even for a season?