The centre-back has been the stand-in for Phil Neville, who leaves this summer, in recent weeks and his performances have been enhanced by that, according to Howard.
Jagielka put in another impressive performance to ensure the 220th Merseyside derby finished goalless at Anfield, maintaining Everton's five-point cushion over their near-neighbours and virtually assuring them a second successive higher league finish.
"Another clean sheet is always good and the boys played fantastically in front of me," Howard told evertontv.
"Jags has always been that and now he has the captain's armband with Phil Neville retiring it allows him to stick his chest out that bit more and be more dominant - but what a class defender."
Everton last week