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"Illegal Contact" is to be called whenever contact is made between a defender and any receiver once they have traveled five or more yards past the line of scrimmage and the quarterback is still in possession of the ball and inside of the pocket.
The resulting penalty is five yards from the previous spot plus an automatic first down.
And while the rule itself is not in question, the penalty in its entirety is.
The penalty—five yards and an automatic first down, was a direct result of defensive players mauling receivers and essentially getting away with it, so long as the player being mauled wasn't a targeted receiver.
Proponents of the enhanced penalty—the automatic first-down—argue that it is intended to discourage defensive players from playing too aggressively, thus allowing offensive players to move more-freely through the defense. The rule as a whole, of course, would translate into more points.
Where the penalty falls short, however, is not only its enforcement or the inconsistency of its enforcement, but the sense that the punishment does not fit the crime.
For example, a defensive player caught offsides only costs his team five yards. Only if the offense is within five yards of a first down would the penalty result in a first down, not automatically, like illegal contact.
Furthermore, receivers—and offenses as a whole, are more protected now than ever before with the league's focus on enforcing the "defenseless receiver" and "pass interference" rules, so I say if the league wants to emphasize those two rules, then they should ease up on the penalty to illegal contact.
Give the offense five yards, but make them earn the first down.